Since the late 1990’s, our faith community has held a Thursday night worship service of prayer and song, inspired by the worship tradition in the community of Taize, in southern France. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we moved this worship experience online, meeting over Zoom on Thursday evenings. We have been on a summer vacation since May, however, and as we resume, we will be making some changes. Beginning on October 19, we will resume worshipping together in person only, in Pioneer Hall. We will meet once a month, at 7:00, for prayer and song, on the third Thursday of each month thereafter. We have missed the communal aspect of our songs and prayer, and look forward to being together again. We extend a loving invitation to all of our church family to join us for this quiet, approximately 30-minute time together.
This week marks the beginning of the fall semester at First Congregational and we can't wait to see you!
Join us during worship for the Blessing of the Backpacks and Educators + hear from our youth about what they learned on their summer service learning trip. And....the choir is back!
Plus...it's time for Sunday School for all ages to kick off again!
🎉 Kids ages 3 through 5th grade are invited to join us in the church building for Sunday School at 9:30 a.m.
💡 Adults also have Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and we meet in-person or via Zoom for this class. This class begins with a two week series on praying the Psalms. We will study some
of them and then write our own prayer based on the Psalm we choose. This will be a guided activity. Come! Be like David and write a Psalm!
🍩 Youth in grades 6-12 are typically meeting twice a month - once for donuts and conversation and once for Confirmation Class. This Sunday is our first Confirmation Class at 9:30 a.m. If you're not receiving regular updates from Pastor Caela about youth events, please let us know.
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.
Fall classes kick off on August 21st!
Sunday School for Children - 9:30 a.m., in person only
Kids ages 3 through 5th grade are invited to join us for Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. Each week we'll do some singing and learning together. 1st through 3rd Sundays are traditional Sunday School with Bible stories and activities. 4th and 5th Sundays are times for service learning with special guests! If your child plans to attend, please be sure and fill out a Child Information Form and reach out to Brandy with any questions.
Adult and Teen Sunday School, 9:30 a.m., in-person or via Zoom
The Table is at the center of Christian community. Receiving the bread and cup - also known as names like Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, and the Eucharist - is a central practice in Christian worship, of course. And community also happens around the table as we study our holy texts together. These acts of sharing food, stories, knowledge, questions, conversation shape us as we seek to live generously, with Jesus as our guide. Join us this fall as we explore 8 central stories from the Bible that invite us to think more deeply about The Table and commit ourselves to live generously in God’s ways of love for all. If your teen plans to attend, please be sure and fill out a Youth Information Form. Questions? Reach out to Pastor Caela.
Tuesday Class, 11:30 a.m., via Zoom
The Tuesday Bible Book Club took a summer hiatus – but we were only partially through a book. Beginning on Tuesday, August 23rd, we will continue reading Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice by Rebecca Todd Peters. It is timely reading: Trust Women is an extremely thoughtful examination of the issue of abortion. Even if you didn’t start the book with us, please know that we have only read a third of it – it will be easy to catch up! The book group has found what we have read so far to be personally and spiritually challenging, inviting us to think about the lives of women in new ways. Please consider joining our lively discussions. The Bible Book Club is led by Pastor Sue and meets via Zoom every Tuesday from 11:30 to 1:00. We hope that you will join us on August 23rd. Questions? Reach out to Pastor Sue.
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)
Wow! ECM at K-State is celebrating 101 years of ministry! Join us on Sunday, May 8th at Long's Park as we welcome guests from ECM and celebrate with them. And then on Sunday, May 15th we'll have guests from ECM with us at 9:30 a.m. (church basement or via Zoom) to share about what ECM is up to and answer our questions. We're excited to welcome these partners in campus ministry and deepen our relationship with them.
You can learn more about ECM on their website (https://www.ecmatkstate.org/) and you're encouraged to sign up for their e-mail list and/or follow them on social media.
Are you ready for some in-person socializing? Join Deacons for an Outdoor Fire Pit Event on Friday, March 25th at 7:00pm. We will provide s’mores and hot cider and all you need to do is bring a chair and enjoy socializing with friends. Thank you to the Maseberg-Tomlinson family for hosting us in their yard for this event! Please RSVP at uccmanhattan.org/sign-ups (or contact the church office) and you'll receive the Maseberg-Tomlinsons' address as an auto-response when you submit your RSVP online.
Choir safety update
We had sincerely hoped to bring the choir back to our Sunday morning worship, beginning in September, but the resurgence of the COVID pandemic, and the particular virulence of the Delta strain, has put a hold on that activity. While we seem to be doing okay with quiet congregational singing in the pews (one hymn a Sunday, alas!), the prospect of rehearsing and performing as a choral ensemble in an inside space is not yet a safe one. Our church’s COVID Task Force will re-evaluate the situation in October, and we’ll see if we can reassemble later this fall.
If we can’t sing, we can play handbells! We have a beautiful 3-octave set of Malmark Handbells that have been under-utilized for the past fifteen years or so, and now seems to be a great time to try to start a handbell choir. If you are middle-school aged or older, can read music reasonably well, and know your right hand from your left, this could be the musical opportunity you have been waiting for!! Please let Gretchen Lewis know if you’re interested, or if you think you could be interested, in learning to ring handbells. It’s lots of fun, and it’s a great opportunity for fellowship and music making. See Gretchen at church or email. Tentatively, I’m planning an organizational meeting and introductory rehearsal on September 12, after church at 12:15 up in the Conference Room.
How about percussion?
In early July, I attended the biennial Conference of UCC Musicians, which was held virtually from Hartford, Connecticut. The event began with a music reading session on Thursday evening July 8, and ended with a concert on Saturday afternoon. The first workshop I attended featured the amazing 80-something year-old Miriam Therese Winter, poet, song-writer, and member of the Medical Mission Sisters, who shared some of her songs with us. Other workshops I found stimulating included some huge puppets by Sue Aziz, an exploration of global hymnody in North American worship led by Patrick Evans, and my personal favorite, a presentation on the use of percussion ensembles in worship, led by Michelle Horsley. She offered very practical advice on starting a basic inter-generation percussion ensemble in the local church, and I’m mulling over the possibilities of beginning one here at First Congregational later in the fall. If you’re interested, talk to me, either at church or by email.
Gretchen Lewis, music coordinator