Bethany Presbyterian Church Bridgeville, PA Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Grace of Giving Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:00:55 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 Bicentennial Sunday Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:42:11 +0000 Read the rest]]> Last Sunday, the Alumni Choir had just finished singing and leading us in a musical rendition of our Bethany Mission Statement that begins, “Loving with the Heart of Jesus.” Jeff Nowak had composed the music and had just finished accompanying the choir on guitar and then conga drum.

In the quiet that followed the song a voice could be heard exclaiming, “Great job up there, Daddy!”

Then a few seconds later, “That was awesome with the bongos!”

Five year old Zander was proud of his dad and moved by the music.

So much was “awesome” this past weekend.

On Saturday evening, The Great Room was packed for a Celebration Dinner, The Alumni Choir sang; a youth band played and sang; and Hunter Briggs led us into the meal with, “Amazing Grace.” Citations from the offices of the Bridgeville Mayor, our State Senator, our State Representative, and our U.S. Representative were presented. The hot-off-the-press Bethany Bicentennial books were made available (they still are!). A booklet of messages from former pastors and staff and from those launched into mission or ministry through Bethany was handed out. Ventriloquist, Cindy Speck, delighted us with her puppets. Above all, people laughed and sang and talked and ate and celebrated the amazing work of God in the 200 years of Bethany’s life. We were blessed, and we were blessing.

Sunday morning was also packed with glimpses of grace- from the brilliance of the morning sun shining through the risen Jesus in the stained glass window above the balcony… to the thirty one singers in the Alumni Choir lifting praises to God… from the flute quieting our hearts to the trumpets giving us goose bumps…from the images on the screens of faces of Bethany to your faces as you recognized faces, remembered moments and glowed with joy… and, oh yes, the spontaneous cries of praise of a five year old proud of his father.

So many people helped in so many ways that I cannot list all of you. I will do my best to tell you in person.

Instead, I will paraphrase that five year old boy from Sunday: “Great job up there, Father! You are awesome!”

See you on Sunday…as the blessing continues.

John Hamilton

Do you have a glimpse o grace from the services, celebrations and ministries from Bicentennial week? Send Robbie and me a note. We’d love to hear from you.

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Devotional: Oct 20 – Oct 25 Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:00:23 +0000 Read the rest]]> Experiencing the Devotional Readings

To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion. (Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the New Living Translation.)

Oct. 20, 2014 Acts 27:13-20

When we take matters into our own hands and disregard God’s leading and counsel, there are consequences to face. In yesterday’s passage, Paul, inspired by the Lord, warned the ship’s officers and crew that to sail further in the worsening weather and sea conditions would bring disaster. His godly warning was ignored by the officers and crew, and they now were being tossed about by a fierce storm, looking for a place to dock the ship. When we decide to strike out on our own, we often do strike out! The Lord lovingly allows us to suffer the consequences of our selfish actions to discipline us and hopefully turn us back toward Him and His plan for us. He knows what is best for us and will receive us back from our wayward wanderings, just like the father welcomed his prodigal son back in Jesus’ parable (Luke 15:20-21, 24). We’ve all been prodigal sons and daughters. When we return to the Lord’s side, we, like David, can say – “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but You will restore me to life again…” (Psalm 71:20a NLT). Let’s all pray for steadfast faith in God’s leading and counsel, and for the diligence to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Oct. 21, 2014 Acts 27:21-26

When Jesus walked on the water and His disciples were fearful, He told them to “Take courage! Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:26-27 NIV). When Jesus sent out the twelve, He told them: “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:30-31 NIV). When the synagogue ruler was told that his daughter had died, Jesus told him: “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:35-36 NIV). When Jesus told His disciples about the coming Holy Spirit, he said: “Do not let you hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 5:27b NIV). Do you see a pattern developing here? The Lord doesn’t want us to be fearful and afraid. He wants us to remember how valuable we are to Him, to just believe in Him, to not let our hearts be troubled, and to take courage. “Take courage.” That’s what Paul told the ship’s officers and crew. He shared that God had a plan to save their lives, but the ship will be lost. When he told them that he believed that God would make good on that promise, he was asking them to believe that also. This reassurance enabled the crew to prepare for whatever would happen next, including a shipwreck! Don’t allow fear to rule your life. Trust the Lord always, and take courage in His promises! Meditate upon Psalm 34:4 (NLT) – “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Amen.

Oct. 22, 2014 Acts 27:27-32

In verses 24-25, we learned that God would save the lives of everyone on board the stricken ship – the officers and soldiers, the crew, and Paul and the rest of the prisoners. However, the crew did not believe this and tried to abandon ship. Paul announced that unless they remained aboard, they and everyone else would be lost. The NIV translates verse 31 this way – “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” Stay with the ship. The ship represented God’s plan for everyone’s survival. Paul had already said that everyone would survive, but the ship would eventually be destroyed. They would all have to endure a traumatic shipwreck, but the Lord would get them all through it. A similar situation is described in Numbers 21:4-9, when God sent poisonous snakes to punish the Hebrews for complaining against Moses and God in the wilderness. Moses prayed to the Lord, and He told him to erect a bronze snake, and anyone who had been bitten could look at it and survive. The bronze snake would not prevent people from being bitten, but would enable them to survive the bite. Sometimes, God allows trials and troubles into our lives, but He will be right there with us and help us get through it. He does this so that we might learn to totally trust Him. Will you trust Him today? Pray to the Lord for the understanding and faith to persevere with Him in all situations.

Oct. 23, 2014 Acts 27:33-38

As Christians, confessing believers in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are constantly being observed by others who don’t know the Lord. They are trying to find out if we really live according to the Bible, are we doing as Jesus did, and if we’re “walking the talk.” When we do walk the talk, God can use those times to change hearts and minds for His glory and praise. Paul was trying to encourage the crew to take some food to strengthen them after fighting the fierce storm for two weeks. He reassured them again that they would survive the ordeal, and then gave thanks and ate a piece of bread in front of them. The NLT then says that “everyone was encouraged” (v. 36) and all 276 aboard ate. Paul’s godly act of concern for their welfare, thankfulness to God, and partaking of some bread himself gave hope and encouragement to the officers and crew. When we talk to someone about matters of faith and listen to their life story and concerns about the future and whether or not they should believe the Good News, we can offer encouragement in that no matter what they’ve done, God is willing to forgive. Maybe this encouragement will lead them to turn their hearts and souls toward the Lord and His unconditional love. Let’s pray for God’s strength and willingness to be encouragers to everyone we meet.

Oct. 24, 2014 Acts 27:39-44

We see the Lord’s mighty hand at work even in the shipwreck. As the ship broke apart, the soldiers feared that the prisoners would swim to shore and escape, and wanted to execute them. However, since the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul’s life, he would not allow the prisoners to be killed. God used Paul’s presence to spare the lives of the other prisoners. Also, remember a couple days back when Paul said that the crew must stay with the ship to be saved? Well, we’re told that those who could not swim to shore used parts of that same broken ship to safely get to land! The ship truly represented God’s love and care for all those aboard and His plan for their survival. We never know when and how the Lord will act and show His mighty arm in our lives. He just asks that we trust Him to get us through any and all circumstances. Let’s be encouraged by this hope and live our lives in anticipation of God’s intervention at any time! Dear Lord, we thank You for Your unconditional love for us. Please help us rest in the hope of Your precious promises every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Oct. 25, 2014 Acts 28:1-6

The Scriptures assure us that God doesn’t allow anything to happen in our lives without a reason and purpose – His reason and purpose (Proverbs 19:21, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 2:13). Consider Paul, for instance. After surviving the storm at sea and a shipwreck, while he’s innocently gathering wood and placing it on a fire, a viper driven out by the heat bites his arm! When the island residents saw this, they decided he was a criminal and this was justice catching up with him. But when Paul shook the snake off and showed no ill effects, they changed their minds and looked at him as a god! We might say “wait a minute, what purpose can God possibly accomplish in this situation?” Knowing Paul’s passion for evangelizing, do you think that, upon being told of his undeserved “godly” status, he used the entire scenario to tell folks the truth about the one and only living God and the Good News about His Son (see Colossians 4:5)? Let’s all trust the Lord to make the most of the good and bad circumstances in our lives, as He works things out in conformity with His good and perfect will and purpose.

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What Kind of Church Does God Want Us To Be? Sun, 19 Oct 2014 04:00:03 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 Bethany is…family Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:33:44 +0000 Read the rest]]> Last Sunday was not just a glimpse of grace; it was a flood of glimpses, a trip up the mountain for a wondrous and lingering gaze upon the grace of God.

When the 50 year members and the 80 year old and older members stood for recognition and prayer…that was a glimpse of grace.

When Hunter Briggs sang ,”Remember Me”, in honor of those who have faithfully pointed to Christ with their lives, helping us to remember Him…that was a glimpse of grace.

When we heard the words of a young adult as she described in her letter to the church how Bethany helped bring her to Christ, grow in Christ, experience the love of Christ and be sent for Christ…that was a glimpse of grace.

When we heard the story of Frank Mawhinney dying in faith and in his joy in his Bethany family…that was a glimpse of grace.

When we ate and conversed and rejoiced and laughed together in the luncheon that followed…that was a glimpse of grace.

Altogether, it was a glorious gaze upon the grace of God in and through the life of Bethany Church.

As I think about Bethany and how we as the body of Christ can make a holy and eternal difference, I share these words written to me from a member, words that say it better than I can:

“Bethany is…caring. When a member of Bethany has a need, the members reach out and fill that need. This goes even beyond the members. When someone in the community has a need, the members of Bethany reach out and fill that need.

Bethany is…home. it’s a safe place. Not just the building. But anytime I’m around Bethany people, I’m at home…And while I know God’s presence is everywhere, I truly feel Him more while there…

Bethany is…loving. What other proof do I need of that than ( she recounts a time of need )… I was surrounded by that love…and I embraced it”.

Bethany is…family. Oh thank you, Lord, for my family!”

This Sunday we celebrate 200 years of being “family”, a loving, giving, praising…yes, sinful and broken…grace-needing and grace-giving…doors-and-hearts-wide-open…family. it is Bethany Bicentennial Sunday. It will be a thrilling and stirring time of praise and thanksgiving. Come and join us.

You will be blessed…oh yes, in order to be a blessing.

John Hamilton

For me it started when I saw the faces of our older members and long term members as they entered the sanctuary, as they stood to be recognized…

And when I saw who brought those who otherwise could not have been there…and when we cheered for them and prayed for them and thanked them- thanked you.

The gaze of grace came when Hunter Briggs sang, “Remember me, in a Bible cracked and faded by the years…Remember me,in a sabctuary filled with silent prayers…

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Volunteer for Family Promise (Oct 26 – Nov 2) Mon, 13 Oct 2014 18:12:39 +0000 Read the rest]]> Click Here to Volunteer ]]> 0 Devotional: Oct 13 – Oct 18 Mon, 13 Oct 2014 04:00:02 +0000 Read the rest]]> Experiencing the Devotional Readings

To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.

Oct. 13, 2014 Acts 26:12-18

In verse 14, Jesus asks Saul why he is persecuting Him. What Jesus says at the end of this verse should cause us all to do some serious soul-searching. The New International Version translates what He says as “It’s hard for you to kick against the goads.” This original Greek text uses the example of an ox goad, a prod used to encourage oxen and cattle to move. Jesus was telling Paul (then called Saul) that to persecute Him was like trying to resist an ox goad. The New Living Translation renders this part of the verse as “It is useless for you to fight against my will.” It was God’s will that Paul take His message of salvation and eternal life to the Gentiles, and Paul’s resistance was futile. The Living Bible translation states this truth even more clearly – “You are only hurting yourself.” Continued resistance to the will of God would only harden Paul’s heart and turn him ever farther from the Lord, allowing Satan free reign in his life. Are we allowing God’s will to permeate our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits, so that we become living sacrifices for Him? Are we opening ourselves up to God’s will so that we can be more effective witnesses for Him? Is there a situation in our lives where we are trying to “kick against the goads” of God? Maybe it’s a sin that He wants us to cease, or something He wants us to do, or… can finish the sentence. We all need to do some serious soul-searching! Let’s thank God for His many blessings and ask Him to be patient with us as we try to be more open to His will in our lives.

Oct. 14, 2014 Acts 26:19-23

Paul continues his defense by stating that “all must repent of their sins and turn to God – and prove they have changed by the good things they do” (v. 20 NLT). James 2:14-20 deals with this issue of a transformed life. In that passage, James states that merely claiming to have faith in Christ doesn’t save anyone. In other words, our beliefs must be put into loving and merciful action toward others in need. Otherwise, he says, our faith is “dead and useless” (2:17b NLT). He goes on to say that some may have faith, and others good deeds. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) tells us that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” to God, without true repentance and faith. James then explains that he will demonstrate his faith by what he does, thus proving that his faith is real and has resulted in a transformed life. A familiar hymn expresses this truth with these words – “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Let’s praise the Lord for His gift of faith and pray that our faith leads us to do good deeds in His name.

Oct. 15, 2014 Acts 26:24-28

Festus tells Paul that too much study has made him crazy or insane. Paul replies that he is not insane, and then says what various translations render as “What I am saying is the sober truth” (NLT), “true and reasonable” (NIV, NIRV), “true and sane” (GWT), or “true and sensible” (EXB, NCV). Paul is telling Festus that what he’s saying is true, because he has received it from Jesus Christ Himself (see Galatians 1:12 and Ephesians 3:3). Paul can also say with confidence and faith that the words he’s speaking are reasonable, sane, and sensible, because they tell of a loving, merciful, and compassionate God who, by His very character, wants all people everywhere to forsake their sin and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Festus, King Agrippa, and all those present had been chosen by God to hear Paul preach His truth and Word to them. Hopefully, they have truly listened to Paul and will respond with their hearts (see Proverbs 23:19). Thank God for His assurance in our spirits that His words are true and sensible, and pray that others receive His truth with open hearts.


Oct. 16, 2014 Acts 26:29-32

Paul responds to King Agrippa’s sarcastic remark with a hopeful appeal to the King and all present that they might “become the same as I am, except for these chains” (v. 29 NLT). How do we become the same as Paul? Most importantly, we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We allow Christ to live through us and look forward to eternity with Him (Philippians 1:21). We are totally devoted servants of Christ (Romans 1:1) and steadfast in our devotion to Him (Acts 20:24). We possess endurance in the face of persecution (2 Timothy 2:10) and are joyful (2 Corinthians 6:10). We love like Jesus did (2 Corinthians 2:4) and remain faithful to finish the race marked out for us by God (2 Timothy 4:7). We sacrifice ourselves in service to the Lord, as Paul did                     (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Sounds like a tall order? We have the promise of Jesus Himself – “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b NLT)! Let’s all pray to God that we be truly transformed in our minds and hearts so that we can be more Christ-like and live sacrificially for Him.

Oct. 17, 2014 Acts 27:1-6

Can you see God’s continuing plan for Paul’s life take shape in this short passage? He arranges for Paul to be in the custody of a kind-hearted Roman officer. He guides the ship toward ports and eventually places Paul on a ship bound for Italy. He provides for Paul’s needs while ashore. Our God has a plan for our lives, too (Jeremiah 29:11). He has every one of our days recorded before they even take place (Psalm 139:16). He has given us His Holy Spirit to give us His wisdom and guide our thoughts, words, and actions. He also has a plan for the good works He wants us to do   (Ephesians 2:10). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) and He knows what’s best for us in all circumstances. His will for us is that we trust Him with our souls, spirits, hearts, and minds. Are we prepared to do that unashamedly and without fear and doubt? Dear Lord and God, We thank You for Your unconditional love for us and Your plan for our lives. Please give us the unwavering perseverance and steadfast will to trust You with our body, soul, mind, and spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


A hymnbook was published in 1884 entitled Grateful Praise: A collection of new songs for the Sunday-school. On page 120, “Safe Harbor”, with music and lyrics by H. L. Frisbie, appears. The lyrics go something like this: 1. We are out on a wide stormy ocean, Toss’d and rent by the fierce chilling blast; But each roll of the wave bears us onward To the safe heav’nly harbor at last. (Chorus) In the harbor, In the harbor, we shall anchor by and by; In the harbor, the sweet, heav’nly harbor of rest, by and by. 2. Tho we rudely are torn by the tempest, Beat about by the wild, angry wave, We can trust, in the storm, to the Pilot, For we know He is mighty to save. 3. See the beacon His great love has lighted, As it shineth our frail bark to guide; Just beyond there is rest sure and blessed, For the harbor is close by its side. Psalm 107:23-32 describes a ship and its crew on a stormy sea; v. 30 tells of God’s blessing as He stills the storm and guides them into a safe harbor. God is our Pilot, too. By His Spirit, He guides us to safe harbors and wants us to see our hope in Him as an anchor (Hebrews 6:19). He has guided us to a safe harbor at Bethany where we can “drop anchor” and live according to our faith! Then we can sing – In the harbor, in the harbor, we shall anchor by and by! Let’s all pray for discernment to know when and how the Lord is leading us and for the peaceful assurance that His Hand is upon us.

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A Great Crowd of Witnesses Sun, 12 Oct 2014 04:00:45 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 Launched into Ministry Fri, 10 Oct 2014 20:35:07 +0000 Read the rest]]> “Bethany…laid the foundation for my faith in Jesus Christ which has continued to this day. Through Logos, youth group, and mission trips, I came to truly know and follow Christ. IN addition, Bethany was always a place where I felt I belonged…I felt loved and cared for by the people of Bethany…I am so grateful to Bethany for building my faith and making me feel special.”

This is just one of the many testimonials from those who have been launched into ministry by Bethany- some of whom are pastors or in mission.

Along with those are a flood of thank you’s and affirmations form former pastors of Bethany. You have made a life-changing and holy difference in the lives of others. We have. God has.

We are putting together a booklet/handout with portions of the letters and correspondence from former pastors and those launched into full time ministry through Bethany. You will be able to see for yourself the power of God to multiply ministry through Bethany. It will be an insert for the bulletins on Bicentennial Sunday, October 19.

Meanwhile, this Sunday will be very exciting. We will honor those of our members who are 80 years and older and/or who have been members for 50 years or more. We will pray gratefully for them ( for you), offer a song by one of our youth ( Hunter Briggs), and have a meal to follow the 10:45am service. and we will hear a message on, “a great crowd of witnesses”…oh, but isn’t it “a great cloud of witnesses”?

Come and join us for worship on Sunday.

Some notes: as we greet one another on Sunday mornings, please feel free to wave or smile broadly, rather than shaking hands. This is the cold and flu season. Just use your discretion as needed.

Check out the Bridgeville Area News this week to read the wonderful article on our new Youth Director, Amanda Metzger…soon to be Leavitt. Amanda is getting married to Greg Leavitt on October 18th. Congratulations to you both.

Hunter Briggs, an 8th grader from Bethany, just finished being “Oliver” in the musical at the Strand Theater in Zelienople. Melany and I saw it and were amazed at the production and the whole cast, including our Hunter.

Finally, tickets for the Bicentennial Dinner on the 18th are still available and can be purchase on Sunday.

Blessings and see you on Sunday,

John Hamilton

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Bicentennial Celebration Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:59:47 +0000 Read the rest]]> Bicentennial Celebration is in Full Swing!

I know this Glimpses of Grace is a little longer than normal but it’s worth it!

$10 Blessing Challenge

Before leaving the sanctuary on September 7, everyone in worship was given $10, “remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). The only instructions were to pray about how God would have you use the $10 to bless someone and then share the story of what God did through you. Well, since then I have been receiving a steady stream of stories; each one another way that God has used His people, you, to serve and bless our community. Here are a couple of examples (more will be coming soon):

Passed our money on to our neighbor to buy diapers for her two beautiful little grandkids. Jace will be 2 in Nov. and TyTy is only 6 mos. They do get help from an upreach program in Bridgeville but they are always short.

Doubled it and donated it to the food bank

Tripled and used to by medicine for a friend having trouble paying for it

Bob was evicted in March of 2011 and began living on the streets of Pittsburgh. First in the strip district for 1 year and then he moved to the south side and has been back in the strip since July 24th he told me. His needs are simple but he keeps moving so people don’t bother him. He has been victimized by local bar patrons, kicked in the head while sleeping, bottles thrown at him and more. I received an “enjoy” discount book last week after giving double red blood and that was the gift they were giving for anyone donating from August 20-sept 6. I gave this book with McDonald’s two for one offers and such to Bob along with the $10 I got from Bethany on Sunday and explained our mission. I asked what size shoes he wore as the sandals he was wearing where torn and falling apart. I am going to go home tonight and gather some shoes and other items from my closet to give to Bob tomorrow…. Just a few minutes ago a guy stopped by my cube at work and said “I saw you talking to the homeless guy yesterday while I was walking past you and I just wanted to say how “cool” that was and to thank you”. I never met this guy before so I explained what and why we were doing this and he shook my hand, introduced himself, and went back to work.

Pray for Our Community and for Bethany

Community Prayer Calendar – Click here for a calendar to guide you and your family in prayer through the month of October. Each day has another way you can pray for your neighbors and others in our community. God has put us here to be a blessing to those around us and the first, perhaps even biggest, way we can do that is by lifting our neighbors and community to God in prayer.

Prayer vigil for Bethany and our community, starting at 8 am on Friday, October 17 and concluding at 8 am on Saturday October 18. If you are able to come to the church, you are welcome to do so, otherwise join us in prayer from wherever you may be.

Celebration Events

Octogenarian/Heritage Sunday (October 12) – join us as we thank God and honor those who have been integral to the incredible legacy of mission, ministry and love of Bethany church. We will honor those who are 80 years old or older and those who have been members of the church for 50+ years during worship and at a luncheon after the second service. Everyone is invited!

Bicentennial Family Celebration (October 18 at 6 pm) – come for dinner and a celebration of God’s love and guidance. Anyone and everyone is invited (you don’t have to be a member) to share in this incredible day. We will have a catered dinner, music, a ventriloquist, and more! Tickets are available ($15 for adults and $5 for kids) in the church office during business hours and won’t be available at the door so get them soon. We want as many folks to be able to participate as possible, so if cost is a concern please contact Pastor Robbie (412-221-5132 or

Bicentennial Worship (October 19 at 8:15 am and 10:45 am) – We are gathering to praise God and thank him for His continuing faithfulness. This will be a special day of music, prayer and worship as we are led by children singing as well as by a choir of current and alumni members.

If you know anyone who may need transportation to or from any of the events above, please contact the church office and let us know, as the deacons are arranging rides for those who need them.

I look forward to continuing the celebration realizing in all of it that we are “Blessed to Be a Blessing: Celebrating our Roots – Serving our Community”!


Robbie Ytterberg

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