Have you taken a moment to look at the Chrismon Tree in Pioneer Hall? The tree is decorated each year with ornaments called Chrismons that were created by Women’s Fellowship in 1996. The idea of a Chrismon tree originated in 1957 at Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville. Virginia. In fact. Ascension Lutheran Church holds the copyright on the word “Chrismon.” The word is a combination of the words “Christ” and “monogram.” Thus, a Chrismon is a “monogram of Christ."
The ornaments use only the colors of white a gold and each is a Christian symbol.
Nov. 27th: Advent begins with HOPE (and decorating)
Dec. 4th: the Sunday of PEACE (and brass and cookies!)
Dec. 11th: a JOYful Christmas Pageant
Dec. 18th: Lessons & Carols (and LOVE)
Dec. 24th at 7:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Worship
Dec. 25th: Cozy Christmas Morning on ZOOM only
Jan. 1st: Christmastide Continues
The season of Christmas continues (which means one more week of Christmas carols!) on Jan. 1st. Start the New Year off right by gathering around Christ's table for Holy Communion as we give thanks for the year that's been and look forward to the year that will be.
Jan. 8th: Epiphany Sunday
Star Words will make an appearance once again at our annual Epiphany service. The use of star words, also called “star gifts,” is a prayer practice connected to Epiphany and the new year that has been growing in popularity in Protestant churches for nearly a decade now. The idea is that a list of intention words, or guiding words, are written or printed on paper stars. These paper stars are then distributed at random. Individuals are often encouraged to place their star word somewhere they will see it regularly throughout the year to allow consistent reflection on how God has moved through, around, or in connection to that word. (Description from A Sanctified Art, LLC.)
Learn more about Epiphany the Star Words here.
UCC Neighbors in Need Appeal – Behold!
On October 2, our congregation will gather donations for the Neighbors in Need offering, which supports the UCC’s ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. This year’s theme is Behold!
Two-thirds of the offering is used to fund a wide array of local and national justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects. The UCC Justice and Peace Action Network continues its strong policy advocacy work on issues such as the federal budget, voting rights, immigration, health care, hate crimes, civil liberties, and environmental justice.
One-third of the offering supports the UCC’s Council for American Indian Ministries (CAIM). Historically, forebears of the UCC established churches and worked with Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arickara, and Hocak in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and northern Nebraska. Today there are 20 UCC congregations on reservations and one urban, multi-tribal UCC congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. These churches and their pastors are supported by CAIM. CAIM is also an invaluable resource for more than 1,000 individuals from dozens of other tribes and nations who are members of other UCC congregations in the U.S.
Behold! With your assistance, we together can help our Neighbors in Need. Please give generously. And remember, contributions to Neighbors in Need can be made online at anytime. You can donate anytime online via our PayPal and be sure to write "NIN" in the "instructions to seller" box.
UCC Strengthen the Church Appeal – All Together!
By Jean Steiner, Mission Board Chair
The UCC special appeal for Strengthen the Church was held during Pentecost. Unfortunately, as chair of the Mission Board, I neglected to organize our congregation’s appeal. The Mission Board wants to correct this omission now.
The vision of the UCC fills an important need in our community, nation, and world. Our commitment to love one another – every single other – is a difficult challenge. The past few years posed special challenges - and extra expenses – to maintain and extend our welcoming community to all.
Conferences in the UCC work to support leaders, connect congregations, engage youth and young adults, and to imagine together a just world for all. And the Strengthen the Church offering makes this revitalizing work possible.
Please join me in making a gift to the Strengthen the Church Offering so that All Together! we can answer God’s call to be the church. You can donate anytime online via our PayPal and be sure to write "Strengthen the Church" in the "instructions to seller" box.
Each fall, our Member Engagement Committee invites members and friends to serve through our congregation by serving on our various boards and committees. A congregation, like any other group of people needs leadership! Our shared ministry here at First Congregational UCC relies heavily on the work of dedicated volunteers and professional staff. As a congregational church, we essentially function like a democracy in many ways. Key decisions are made by the members of our congregation - sometimes in congregational meetings where we all have a voice and vote and sometimes by those we have delegated to work on our behalf (officers, boards, committees, and staff).
You can learn more about our governing structure and our boards and committees here.
In 2023, we are trying an experiment. We know that some folks are very happy to serve but don't necessarily want to attend meetings on a regular basis. Some of our boards are going to try a new model where only 3-4 board members will attend regular meetings. The work of the board will be supported by auxiliary members who will not attend meetings but will, instead, be available to help the board with specific tasks as needed.
Each week in worship we are invited into a time of generosity as we pass the offering plates. We remind ourselves that we share our financial resources AND we are called to share our time and skills. Whether that's volunteering with Second Helping, teaching our children and youth, serving on the tech team, organizing a welcoming dinner for new members, showing up at the state house to advocate for justice, or changing lightbulbs and raking leaves, there are so many ways to support our congregation. We hope you'll prayerfully consider how you are being called to best use your gifts as we live into our church covenant together.
Receiving bread is at the center of Christian community. Jesus shared bread with his disciples, but also with everyone from sinners to huge crowds of complete strangers! Loaves of bread are tangible signs of God’s unconditional love for us and for all. What better way to celebrate our commitment to following God’s example of loving every single other than by sharing bread?!
The Stewardship Committee invites you to stay after worship on Sunday, October 9 for a continued celebration of World Communion Sunday. Those who are able are asked to bring bread to share (homemade or purchased) that has special meaning to you – maybe because it represents something about your ethnic or national heritage, or someplace you have lived in the past, or it calls to mind a special event in your life. Gluten-free options will be available.
Even if you can’t bring bread, everyone is welcome to stay and share the gift of fellowship and informal communion. We hope to see you there!
The Stewardship Committee (Donna Keyser, Julie Appino, and Sarah Kaufman)
This fall we'll have two oportunities for those who are new to First Congregational to gather. Sunday, Sep. 25th for lunch and Sunday, Oct. 30th for dinner. These are lovely opportunities to brea bread and get to know each other. Those who attend will be given an opportunity to ask questions about First Congregational and meet some of our long-time members. If you are new to the church and want an invitation to one of these welcoming events, please e-mail Pastor Caela.
Join Pastor Caela and other friends from First Congregational for some fun on the town this summer. Stop by for conversation or prayer. Grab a quick blessing on your way somewhere else or stay for a spell. Upcoming opportunities to connect:
🍽 Wednesday, May 25, 5:00-6:30 p.m. at Tallgrass Taphouse (enjoy a beverage, snack, or early dinner)
☕️ Wednesday, June 15, 8:30-10:00 a.m. at Radina’s Bakehouse (enjoy a beverage, snack, or breakfast - we can also go sit by the splash pad)
🌅 Tuesday, July 19, 8:00-9:00 p.m. at Tuttle Creek Observation Point (bring a chair and enjoy the sunset together)