A few weeks ago, we got together to talk about prayer because we know many people are struggling right now and WISH they could pray....but don't know how or where to begin. We talked about some of the things that get in the way of prayer and what we think prayer is (spoiler: we don't think it's just "talking to God").
Ben shared about how prayer is a transformational experience. Caela talked about prayer as orienting ourselves towards God. Both pastors agreed that it goes WAYYYYYY beyond words and shared some of the non-wordy-type ways of praying that work for them.
Missed the first conversation? Check out the recorded version below.
Join us on MONDAY, May 18th at 12pm Central for another conversation on Facebook Live.
This time we're going to dive into Centering Prayer. And...we are still here to answer your questions. So hit us up with those by Monday if you can. You can email either one of us or text them to 785-380-7772.
Rev. Caela Simmons Wood is the pastor of First Congregational UCC in Manhattan, KS. Rev. Ben Konecny is a minister at First Congregational UCC in Greeley, CO.
(Note: this conversation is rescheduled from May 8th when we had technical difficulties.)
The first Wednesday of the month means Lunch Bunch!
We hope you'll bring your own lunch to a comfy spot in your home and join us via Zoom for conversation and laughter. It will be fun to see each other's homes and perhaps meet each other's pets! Physical distancing is what we're after and that doesn't have to mean social distancing. It will be so good to talk with one another.
Join us Wednesday, May 6th at 11:30 a.m.
Click to Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88932482375
Dial 1-669-900-6833 from your phone. When you hear the recorded voice say, “Welcome to Zoom. Please enter your meeting ID followed by pound” you should dial 889 3248 2375#. That’s it!
Got questions? Let us know. Otherwise, we'll see you Wednesday for lunch!
We are excited to announce that we've launched a podcast! Chad Moreau is hosting this weekly-ish podcast and will be interviewing people in our congregation.
“In the beginning, God created...” Our faith story is one of infinite creation. We humans are invited into the work of co-creating with our Creative God. Sometimes it looks like painting or making music. Other times it's baking or gardening or looking at old problems in new and fresh ways. Join us as we get to know the people of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Manhattan, KS. Host Chad Moreau talks with people on a weekly(ish) basis about life and creativity and shares those conversations with us here. Learn more about our congregation at uccmanhattan.org.
Dear Friends in Christ,
I first wrote to you about COVID-19 on March 13th; a Friday night from a hotel room in Wichita. That was my last out of town trip. In that letter that, I encouraged all of our congregations to discontinue in person worship and close buildings by the end of the month because of the danger presented by COVID-19. But things moved more quickly, pastors and congregations responded and within the next week or so, most acted and were worshipping on-line. It was amazing!
Since March 14th, like most of you, I have been home. That was before any stay at home orders from governor or the health department. Those orders quickly followed and now, Governor Kelly is scheduled to lift the stay at home order for the State of Kansas effective May 3rd and Governor Stitt has implemented plans to reopen the state of Oklahoma in three phases; those plans began yesterday. These orders are being lifted for many reasons, mostly important economic realities. But another reality is that the virus is still spreading; Here are the numbers:
Kansas now has 2,812 confirmed cases; an increase of 200 and 113 deaths statewide https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/
In Oklahoma:3121, confirmed cases, an increase of 104, and 188 deaths statewide, https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
I write to you with one request; STAY THE COURSE. Continue to refrain from in person worship. Even though stay at home orders are being lifted, confirmed cases of the virus continue to increase and now is NOT the time to return to our buildings and gather together for worship.
The physical closeness in our sanctuaries is risky. Even the simple act of singing a much beloved hymn could compromise the health of those gathered as droplets which can carry the virus can infect a neighbor. An unintentional touch, or hug, could do it. We don't know who is infected with the virus. Gathering for worship impacts not only those who choose to attend, but also whomever those who attended come into contact with. We have no right to impose the consequences of our choices and behaviors on others. In Kansas, five religious gatherings resulted in 85 cases and seven deaths from COVID -19.
We miss being together as communities of faith. I understand that. But remember we are staying apart to save lives. The lives of those we love, the lives of our neighbors, maybe even our own lives. How long will this last? I don't really know. Honestly, we are all thinking about everything differently, including worship. What I do know is that we are still the church, no matter how we gather for worship. What I do know is that the Spirit of the Living God still moves among us. I see it as I join you online for worship, as I read about continuing ministries in your communities and how you are continuing to care for each other through food pantries and mask ministries and calling trees to check in on those who may be especially isolated. I see it in the dollars you continue to give for Medical Debt Relief despite the financial realities in our two states; I see that you are making sure that those in your our own church who need help with technology get it so they can join worship; if food needs to be delivered, plans are made to do that and the list goes on and on. You continue to serve. And people from all over are joining you in worship; your faith is not bound or contained by your buildings. COVID-19 has not stopped us from being the church; in fact it may have resulted in our stepping up our game! We are still the church, no matter where we are or how we gather.
So for now, let's continue to do our part in helping to flatten the curve, helping the numbers to go down; to care for each other, our families, our communities, ourselves; that's enough for now. Let's continue to experience worship in new ways; apart, but together online, in small online groups, streaming, Facebook Live, YouTube, ZOOM.
LET'S STAY THE COURSE
More information from the announcements:
New Session of the Midweek “Bible Book Club” starting on Tuesday, May 5th, 11:30 to 1:00: “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene”
Please consider joining us for the new sessions of our midweek ZOOM class. Beginning of Tuesday, 5 May, we will be reading Cynthia Bourgeault’s book The Meaning of Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene is probably the most famous character in the Bible about whom the least is known. Bourgeault’s book seeks to address that, starting by look at what the Bible does say about her and how church tradition, art, and legend have added – and frequently distorted - the picture we have of Mary. In addition, Bourgeault introduces her readers to the The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and other lost gospels and demonstrates how these lost writings have altered our perspective of her. What has emerged in recent years is a serious re-evaluation of Mary Magdalene’s place among Christ’s followers and Bourgeault thoroughly examines that new perspective.
If you are new to our midweek class, please feel free to drop in this coming Tuesday, 28 April, when the group will meet just to drink coffee and eat chocolate together. The book is available at Amazon in either paperback or Kindle form. If you have trouble obtaining a book, please text or call Pastor Sue. You can e-mail the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need Sue's phone number. Please join us!
A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who are keeping our Second Helping and Blessing Box missions going through this time of physical distancing. The need has never been greater and our congregation is stepping up to do its part.
We had to halt sit down meals in mid-March when the church leadership determined that services and other activities at the church would move on-line. The Mission Committee had already begun planning with Linda Thurston, our Second Helping Leader, on updating our operating procedures to ensure the health of our clients and volunteers. Currently volunteers come in three shifts - two mid-week to make and refrigerate sandwiches and prep the lunch/breakfast bags. The cook and assistant come Sunday afternoon to prepare and box the hot meals. The distribution volunteers bag the hot meal and lunch/breakfast bags for distribution by our Church Host, Reggie, in the parking lot to our clients. In March, 43 volunteers served 200 adults and 6 children a hot meal plus sack lunch and breakfast.
A tremendous amount of food is also going out through the Blessing Box. We are particularly grateful to Jonathan Mertz who noticed a damaged shelf one afternoon and to Nick Knicklebine who had repaired our box almost before we could blink. The First Presbyterian Church has adopted our box and members help stock it on Saturdays and the First Lutheran Church has established their own box further up Poyntz. Many of our members include a bag of groceries for the Blessing Box when they get their own food, and bring it by the church. We urge you to wear gloves when doing this if you are able. The Church also receives designated donations to allow us to purchase items for the Blessing Box and Second Helping.
This is a community wide effort. Ann Smit is our liaison to the Common Table to work with other meal and blessing box missions at other venues. As a tribute to Earth Day, 2020, the Mission Committee is working on a longer-term plan to convert our supplies to renewable sources in order to balance Manhattan's food needs, cost concerns, and sustainability.
With everyone working together, we are striving to ease the burdens of those who live on the edge in our community and who need extra help right now.
Again, thank you to the members and all of our food mission volunteers from the Mission Committee.
The Board of Christian Education wants to provide some weekly online opportunities for people to continue learning/connecting/sharing during the summer months. These don't necessarily have to be content-centered classes, but we're envisioning a time for people to gather, check in, talk about God in their lives, and enjoy activities together. Gatherings will be held via Zoom or other online platforms
Please let us know about your interest here so we can set up the best schedule possible. We will be accepting feedback through the end of April.
Timebanking is a value-based service exchange mechanism. The idea is that those practicing timebanking give service, and they receive service in exchange; in timebanking the giving and receiving of services occurs within a community network – the timebank!
The purpose of a Timebank is to build a resilient community and help create neighborhoods where people grow to know and trust each other. The more resilient our neighborhoods, the greater our quality of life. Through Timebanking, we help create more vibrant and connected neighborhoods. When we share what we love to do with others, give of our talents, and receive help when needed, communities and neighborhoods thrive.
Timebanking values: assets, social networks, respect, redefining work, and reciprocity.
TIMEBANKING ASKS AND OFFERS
If you are interested in joining the time bank please contact Carol Sevin and she will schedule an orientation around that interest and advertise it to the whole church in case others are also interested.
Helpful links from the announcements: