Do you have the desire to help people in need, whether in our church or community, nation or world? If you do, then membership on the Mission Board might be the right choice for you, and amazingly the Mission Board is looking for one or two more members to join us! The Mission Board is responsible for informing, educating, and stimulating action within our church about the needs for help in our church, community, nation, and world. Our recent activities include:
*Having one of our members attend the monthly Common Table Meetings to keep us informed regarding this important community mission.
*Providing a training session for the hosts of our church’s Second Helping dinners.
*Supporting the Interfaith Welcome Coalition in San Antonio through its Backpacks of Hope Initiative. The IWC helps women and children who are in detention centers in TX, and the backpacks of hope are given to families released from the detention centers.
*Having special offerings throughout the year that include One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church, Neighbors in Need, and the Christmas Fund. We also support the annual CROP Walk.
We are open to new ideas for mission and gladly welcome new membership! We meet every second Wednesday of the month at 5:30 for an hour. Members of the board include Gretchen Lewis, Stephanie Reeck, Vanessa Kearns, and Jackie Kerstetter. If you are interested in learning more about the Mission Board, feel free to speak to any member of the board, Sue Zschoche or to Pastor Caela. You may also e-mail Jackie Kerstetter (presiding officer) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian Education Board also has openings. If you would like to become more involved, Christian Education is a great place to start. We work with our pastors and staff to coordinate classes and educational opportunities. We also help with recruiting staff when the need arises. We meet the second Wednesday at 6:30pm. If you would like to learn more, please contact Pastor Caela, Sue Zschoche, or Deane Lehmann.
Our neighbors at First Lutheran Church are opening their kitchen and fellowship hall to us to allow us to continue serving our Second Helping Meals while our floors are under renovation. We will be cooking and serving there on April 15th and 22nd. In return, the Board of Missions is encouraging us to help them in their mission by bringing personal items to our church on Sunday, May 20; we will take them to the Lutheran Church to help them stock their Donation Closet, from which their guests can choose two personal items each week. Since the First Lutheran Church serves an average of 60 people each week, we feel this would be an appropriate way to partner with them in mission to our local community. Items of special need include packages of toilet paper, soap, feminine hygiene products, razors, and regular-sized containers of shaving cream, deodorant, and toothpaste.
Living Room Worship Night
Sunday, May 6
6:30 - 8:30 pm
A casual evening of acoustic guitar, singing, prayer, and fellowship.
If you are hungry to deepen your connection to God and each other,
join us in the living room! Location: 205 Cedar Drive, Manhattan 66502
Our Blessing Box on the south corner of the parking lot is regularly visited. Thank you to all who have brought food and toiletries for stocking the box. Our supplies are low right now and we'd welcome donations of non-perishable food and toiletries.
Need ideas of what to bring? Rebecca Bishop's list can help:
Food Items: granola bars, breakfast cereal (individual boxes/cups), instant oatmeal (cups/packets), dry soup (packets/cups), ramen, mac & cheese (cups/boxes), peanut butter & cracker packs, cheese & cracker packs, instant coffee singles, hot cocoa packets, koolaid mixes, pasta, dry pasta sauce mixes, crackers, chips (individual bags), rice, dried beans, boxed/bagged rice/noodle/potato dishes, seasoning packets, dry milk, pudding/jello cups, jelly, canned fruit/vegetables, canned pasta sauce, peanut butter
Personal Items: bar soap, deodorant, wet wipes, razors, shaving cream, laundry soap powder (small boxes), toothpaste, tooth brushes, gloves, stocking hats, hand warmers, tissues, toilet paper, feminine sanitary products, shampoo, lotion, dish soap
You can leave items in the Blessing Box bin located in lobby.
An invitation from Pastor Caela:
Summer in a college town often marks a change of pace, even for those of us who aren’t affiliated with the university. The town empties out a bit and it’s easier to park in Aggieville, go for a stroll downtown, or simply rest in any of our beautiful natural areas near Manhattan. In the years that I’ve been at First Congregational, we’ve often focused on a communal spiritual practice each summer. In 2014, when I first arrived as your pastor, I spent the summer meeting with about 75 of you one-on-one. Together, we practiced the holy act of “holding space” as I was able to hear your stories and we started to get to know each other. In 2015, we had several social meet ups around town – going for walks, having drinks, playing at the playground. Again, we “held space” in community – laughing together and swapping stories. Last summer we focused our attention on Keeping Sabbath. Our boards and committees each took a month off and we found breathing space in our shared ministry. Additionally, I made an intentional shift in how I focused my own time, carving out more space for my own spiritual practices, big dreaming and pondering, Bible study, and more. My guess is that focus on making space for Sabbath will continue in the summer of 2018….and that the Holy Spirit is probably smiling about that.
This summer, the Deacons and I want to present two new options for your consideration. Both are very minimal and flexible time commitments. Both would be a blessing to you. Both would deepen your sense of connection with God. I hope you’ll consider participating in one of these spiritual practices with us this summer. If you have any questions, please do reach out!
- Pastor Caela
Summer Prayer Partners
Are you interested in learning to pray, deepening your faith, or connecting more intentionally with someone else at First Congregational? You are encouraged to sign up for a summer Prayer Partner. You and your partner will check in on a weekly basis in-person, via phone, or text. You can simply share prayer concerns with one another or spend time in prayer together. The Deacons will send tips as you begin your partnership so you won’t be confused. We will also host an optional kickoff event at 6pm on Wednesday, May 30 for participants. Prayer Partnerships will begin June 1 and wrap up mid-August. Sign up here or contact the church office to sign up by May 21st.
Summer Weekday Blessings
We would love to send someone from our congregation to pray with you or simply give a brief blessing at your workplace or home during the week. Beginning June 1 there will be an online sign up to reserve your time slot, or you can contact the church office. One of our pastors and/or a Deacon will visit you at the time and location you select to offer a blessing.
When I was a child, we frequently sang a hymn with these words:
The Church is not a building.
The Church is not a steeple.
The Church is not a resting place.
The Church is the people!
I am the Church.
You are the Church.
We are the Church - together.
All who follow Jesus, all around the world....
Yes! We’re the Church together.
Each day when I come into our church building, I give thanks for the people who constructed and maintained this building that we inhabit. Almost 160 years ago a group of missionaries from New England constructed our original building, which we still use each week for Taizé worship, Second Helping, fellowship hour, adult education and more. After fundraising and painstakingly constructing that original structure, a tornado came through about two weeks before the dedication of the new building and caused extensive damage. Much of the work had to be re-done and the founders desperately wrote to their friends and acquaintances back East to raise funds....again. Their supporters came through, and the building was dedicated in July of 1859, only six weeks later than they originally planned.
It’s so true that the Church is not a building or a steeple. The Church is US and all who are trying their best to follow Jesus, all around the world. Our ability to walk in the Way of Jesus is greatly assisted by this gathering space. Our building provides a place for us to worship, support one another, dream and plan, and learn together. It is also an important community center here in Manhattan. Every week we serve the community by hosting five 12-step groups, a community choir, a free community meal, free classes for people of all ages and more. Groups like MAPJ, AAUW, the MLK Committee, and other community organizations use our group on a regular basis. And, of course, we frequently host one-time events for those who are walking hand-in- hand with us as we try to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”
I am so thankful when I think about the generosity of our congregation. We are a congregation that loves to have our building used by the community. Time and time again we say “yes!” to the many ways this space can be used to bring people together, creating and sustaining community. As we continue to Step Forward together, we have an opportunity to consider a one-time special gift to our congregation. Our Board of Trustees has generously given their time in the past 18 months to consider badly-needed updates to the flooring in Pioneer-Blachly, the kitchen, and the lobby and bathrooms near the kitchen. They have worked carefully with the expertise of local architects and contractors, prayerfullymaking decisions on our behalf. It is now time for the rest of us to boldly Step Forward together, providing the funds our congregation needs to update these spaces.
Click here to read an invitation from Moderator, Dave Smit, with details about how to make a donation or pledge. You can also follow along with our progress on the photos page.
What a blessing to be able to Be the Church together in this particular time and place, carrying forward the legacy of the cloud of witnesses who came before us, carefully stewarding this space for the generations that will come after us. Let’s Step Forward together!
- Pastor Caela
Summer is coming and White Memorial Camp is a great place to experience the joys of summer camp. Kids and youth who have completed grades K-12 can attend camp near Council Grove. Options include the Young Adventurers Camp (completed grades K-3, July 29-31), Family Camp (for all ages, July 27-30), and Last Blast (Completed Grades 4 – 12, July 29 – Aug 4). Some scholarships are available for First Congregational members. Please check with the church office for more information about scholarships. To register for camp, visit whitememorialcamp.com.
Watch here for photos throughout the journey. Have you given to our flooring campaign yet? If not, we've love to have your one-time donation or ongoing pledge. Learn more here.
Week One: Construction Begins
Week Two: April 16-22
Week Three: April 23-29
During the month of May we will be worshiping in alternate locations TWO weeks in a row. Do not come to 700 Poyntz on May 6th or 13th. You won't find us here. Look below for information about what we'll be up to on those Sundays. We will re-gather here on May 20th for Pentecost.
MAY 6 - SHARED WORSHIP AT FIRST CHRISTIAN
Join us at First Christian Church (115 Courthouse Plaza) at 10:45am for a shared worship service featuring the Thundering Cats Big Band! Our pastors will lead worship together and we will all enjoy this special service of beautiful music. Communion will be shared and the table is open to all. Sunday School will still take place at First Congregational at 9:30am. Additionally, the Thundering Cats are hosting a special benefit concert that same afternoon at 2pm, also at First Christian Church. A free-will offering for ECM (Ecumenical Campus Ministry) will be received at the afternoon concert. | Facebook event
PLEASE NOTE: We will have Sunday School on May 6th in our regular location (700 Poyntz). Adults will finish up the We Sing Freedom! class and nursery care/Sunday School is also available for the kids. May 6th is the final day of Sunday School before we take a break for the summer.
May 13 - WORSHIP IN THE PARK & BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS
Join us at Long's Park for our annual worship in the park and blessing of the animals. Please bring along your own chair if you've got one. During worship, we'll bless our pets. Childcare staff will be on hand to care for young kids who want to explore the playground or the rest of the park. After worship, stick around for a good ol' fashioned potluck. Bring a dish to share and your own plates/silverware. Drinks will be provided by our Board of Deacons. | Facebook event
May 20 - PENTECOST + CHRISTIAN ED RECOGNITION + FLOORING DEDICATION
It's Pentecost! We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit in worship on this Sunday each year and you are encouraged to wear red, yellow, or orange to worship so we can make a flame together. This year, Pentecost is also Christian Education Recognition Sunday. We will celebrate and bless children, youth, and adults who have participated in or led education activities. After worship, we will dedicate our new flooring during Fellowship Hour. Don't miss it!
A HUGE thank you to our Board of Trustees and other volunteers who came Saturday morning and did prep work for the new flooring project, which begins this week. Here are some before photos so you can see the space. We hope to post more photos on our Facebook page during construction. Construction should be finished by the end of the month.
Can you help us STEP FORWARD together? We are almost halfway to our goal of $40,000. Help us replace these almost-thirty-year old floors, which are used many times a week for community and congregational events. You can make a one-time gift (please note "Step Forward" in the special instructions line) or fill out a pledge card before the end of April. Pledges can be paid before the end of 2018.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STEP FORWARD CAMPAIGN
See more photos of the project on the main photo page