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December 2016 Newsletter

Volume 18, Issue 11

Fr o m Yo u r Pa s t o r … One of the beloved Advent traditions in many churches is lighting the four candles of the Advent Wreath. While there is no official name for each candle, this church uses the familiar titles of hope, peace, joy and love. Each Sunday of Advent, individuals lead our congregation in a litany that reflects these four themes. This familiar ritual offers us an opportunity to give thanks for the ways in which God shares these gifts with the world. During the season of Advent, I invite you to think about how you might share the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love with others. Hope: There are a lot of reasons why people feel discouraged and disheartened. Some individuals are faced with serious personal issues, while others are concerned about people they love. Some people feel overwhelmed by the issues facing the greater world. How might you offer a word of hope to someone who is discouraged? Perhaps there is someone you haven’t connected with in a long time who would appreciate hearing from you. Or, maybe there is someone who is feeling lonely and isolated who could use some support. Peace: There has never been a time in the history of humanity in which there has been peace among all people. Our current age is no exception. How might you help to bring greater peace to the place where you live? Is there someone you need to make amends with? Is there an organization that you can support that helps to foster peace? Do you need some quiet time to find peace within your own soul? Joy: The Jesuit Priest, and philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, once said, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” How might you help other people experience greater joy? Are there caring acts that you can do that would help to lift someone’s spirit? Do you have a gift of music, or other form of art, that can bring joy to another? Who might you surprise with an unexpected note of encouragement? Love: Many people will make an effort to spend time with family members and friends in the coming weeks. During these encounters we have many opportunities to express our love. What other opportunities do you have to share love with others? It may be as simple as fulfilling a wish on a “Sharing Tree” tag or reaching out to a friend who is struggling. It may mean supporting the work of an organization that is fighting to ensure that all people have equal rights. There is no end to the ways in which we can love others. Peace, Roger


Advent and Christmas Schedules Sunday, December 4, the annual choral service will be held during the regular 10:00 a.m. service of worship. Sunday, December 11, the annual Children and Youth Service will be held during the regular 10:00 a.m. service of worship. Saturday, December 24 there will be one Christmas Eve service at 9:00 p.m. This service includes communion, choral music, and the lighting of candles. Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day there will be a 10:00 a.m. service of worship on . We encourage you to come to church dressed casually for this child friendly service. Sunday, January 1 there will be a 10:00 a.m. service of worship on New Year’s Day. The Reverend Harold Slater will be the worship leader.

Inside this issue: Pastor’s Message Advent and Christmas Schedules December Calendar Joys & Concerns Interfaith Potluck Foster Care Closet & Syrian Refugee Efforts Holiday Office Hours Stewardship Update Social Concerns Committee Invitation Christmas Re-Gift Box From the Director of Educational Ministries Lofty News Founder Series Presents Measure for Measure Women’s Christmas Celebration Our Whole Lives is Back for 2017 Financial Summary

1 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 9

The Financial Corner December Birthdays December Lectionary Texts New Addition to the UCC Website Thank You Notes The Lunch Bunch Film Series Upcoming Educational Ministries Events Service Saturdays Are Back December Benevolence Giving Mark Your Calendars Keeping Up with the Congregation UCC Book Club Happenings Labels for Education

10 11 11 12 12 12 12 13 13 14 14 15 15 15




December 2016 Tue








7 pm Choir Rehearsal 8 pm AA

4 Music Service 5 10 am Worship 10 am Paint & Palette 11 am Fellowship 11:15 am Family Choir & Youth Chimes Rehearsal 3 pm Founders Series Presents Measure for 8 p.m. AA Measure in Concert

6 9:30 am Staff Meeting 12 n Sacred Writings


13 9:30 am Staff Meeting 12 n Sacred Writings 6:30 pm Worship Committee 7:15 pm Christian Community 7:15 pm Deacons 7:30 pm Trustees

14 7 am Bible Study 12:30 pm Bible Study

20 9:30 am Staff Meeting


Children & Youth Service 10 am Worship 11 am Fellowship 4:00 pm Youth Group Christmas Party

18 10 am Worship 11 am Fellowship

12 10 am Paint & Palette

8 pm AA

19 10 am Paint & Palette

7 7 am Bible Study 12:30 pm Bible Study


6 pm Women’s Christmas Party

6:00 pm Christmas Party - B. Curnutt


8 pm AA



7 pm Choir Rehearsal 8 pm AA



7:15 pm Church Council




Christmas Eve

9 pm Christmas Eve Service of Worship

7 pm Choir Rehearsal 8 pm AA

10 11 am Children & Youth Rehearsal Service Saturday at Shelterhouse Resale 2:00 pm—6:00 pm

7 pm Choir Rehearsal

2:30 pm Caffeine

25 Christmas Day 10 am Worship 11 am Fellowship


8 pm AA





5:00 pm AA

Church Offices will remain closed between December 26th and January 4th, 2017


Joys & Concerns Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat Smith upon the death of her husband, Bill on October 29, 2016. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bruce Oliver as he recovers from knee surgery on November 15th. We keep Fran Hamburg in our thoughts and prayers as she recovers from surgery on November 28th.

INTERFAITH POTLUCK Our church will be hosting an interfaith potluck on Sunday, January 15, at 4:00 p.m. in the fellowship hall. This group has been meeting for a year as of January in an effort to increase community among members of various faiths and to provide service to the larger community. This is the group that is sponsoring the newly-formed Foster Care Closet. We invite members of the congregation to join us at this potluck. You will have the opportunity to meet many wonderful people in an informal setting as well as join us as we celebrate one year of ongoing and meaningful dialogue. Food for this meeting will need either to have all ingredients listed or be dishes which are halal. If you have questions, please call Barb McGregor who can help you with Muslim dietary guidelines.

Foster Care Closet & Syrian Refugee Efforts Several people have asked how they can make monetary donations to the Foster Care Closet and to the Syrian refugees. Financial donations for the Syrian refugee efforts can be made out to United Church of Christ, Midland, with Syrian Refugee Efforts on the memo line. If you would like to make a financial gift to the Foster Care Closet, checks can be made out to: Foster Closet of Michigan-Midland County Branch. They may be sent to: Foster Closet of Michigan-Midland County Branch, P.O. Box 1243, Midland, 48641. These are tax-deductible. Please be sure to include a name and address for a receipt to be sent to you. The Foster Care Closet is in continuing need of new underwear, shoes, and other clothing items. At this time they have enough games, toys, and stuffed animals. You may continue to place donations of goods in the Foster Care box in Fellowship Hall. Thanks so much for all your generosity! The Social Concerns Committee

Holiday Office Hours The church office will be closed the week between Christmas and January 3. If you are in need of pastoral assistance please contact the Reverend Harold Slater directly at 989-486-3559. Rev. Slater is offering pastoral coverage for Reverend Pancost who will be on vacation with his family. 4

Stewardship Update What do all these numbers represent? Think: Stewardship! Forgot to return your Time & Talent Sheet and Pledge card? It’s not too late! Your help and assistance is always needed and welcomed. A great big Thank You to all who have returned the Time & Talent Sheet and the Pledge card. The information helps to create a budget and to carry out our missions.

Social Concerns Committee Invitation The Social Concerns Committee is charged with addressing societal issues of concern and formulating methods by which to address these within our congregation, our community, and the world at large. Membership is open to everyone at any time. We currently have a group of about ten people, but we would welcome more members to help us work on various issues. We usually meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. Please watch your church calendar to see when the next meeting will happen, or speak with a member of the Social Concerns committee. You may also call Barb McGregor at 989-708-0736 for the next meeting date. Hope to see you at a meeting!

Christmas Re-Gift Box What do you do when you receive nice new gifts at Christmas, especially new clothes or new toys, which you won’t use? How about donating them? A Re-Gift box will be in the church’s fellowship hall from December 23rd through January 8th to collect all Re-Gift items. We will see that your gifts get good homes at a local organization which our church supports or has supported in the past. Please remove all gift wrapping before donating your item. If you have questions, please contact Barb McGregor at 989-708-0736.


From the Director of Educational Ministries

Dearest Friends, The worship service on December 11th will be led by our children and youth with a program titled ‘Twas the Season Before Christmas’. As the name implies, the program is a lesson on Advent, the church season that comes before Christmas. Over the past year, during our Sunday School classes, we have spent lots of time talking about the season of the church year, the colors that represent them, and how they help us to grow in faith. Kids notice small things like the color of the parament or Roger’s stoll, and it is really neat to see them make the connections to why those changes happen.

I always worry every year about not being able to find a new and exciting way to encourage the children and the congregation with this December service, but then I’m amazed by how the Holy Spirit works and inspiration comes. It is my hope that you will find new insight into the season of Advent from this special program. Advent is not a biblical tradition, but it is beautifully designed to help us prepare, wait, and anticipate the story of Christ’s birth again and again. A build-up of powerful scripture, calls for hope, peace, joy and love, and literal light. “Candles lit one by one, reminding us there is work to be done.”

Jenn Ringgold Director of Educational Ministries

Lofty News

The Choir is excited to bring you Go! Sing it on the Mountain! by Pepper Choplin on Sunday, December 4. By the time you read this article - you will probably have already heard the 40-minute work featuring narrators and soloists. I hope it uplifted your Advent spirits. I am excited to announce that the choir will be presenting the REQUIEM by Mark Hayes on Sunday, May 14, 2017. Mark wrote this piece as a testimonial to his parents and it is one of his most moving and inspirational works. In January, watch for an announcement about David King and Robin VonWald performing J. S. Bach's Amazing Quoniam tu solus sanctus, from the Bach B-minor Mass. It will be accompanied by a string quartet and harpsichord. This will definitely be an experience not to miss! We are blessed to have some talented musicians in our UCC congregation.

Jim Hohmeyer Director of Music


Founders Series Presents Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is coming to our sanctuary on December 4 at 3:00 p.m. as part of our church Founders series. Measure for Measure is an eighty-five voice men’s choir based in the Ann Arbor area. The concert will feature seasonal holiday songs. There is a free will donation at the end of the program.

Women’s Christmas Celebration As the holidays approach, how better to enjoy the season than with UCC women at their annual Christmas celebration! This year we will gather in the church parlor on Tuesday, December 6 at 6:00 p.m. Please bring an appetizer or sweet treat to share, if you are able. Drinks and serving items will be provided. No one has ever left this celebration hungry. Our entertainment will be the ever popular and often competitive White Elephant gift exchange. Please bring a small item for the gift exchange. We look forward to an evening of much laughter, delicious treats and delightful conversation. Feel free to bring a friend! A sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board across the hall from the church office. If you have questions or wish to call in your sign-up, please contact Janet Danek at or call (989) 750-3144. We hope to see you there! Sponsored by the Board of Christian Community


Our Whole Lives is Back in 2017 Our Whole Lives (O.W.L.) is a positive, comprehensive, and age appropriate sexuality educational program. The goal is for trained O.W.L. teachers to work with parents and form a meaningful partnership for positive and responsible sexuality education. We start at age 5, with the belief that sexuality is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and values about identity and relationships, intimacy and health. The Board of Educational Ministries is organizing O.W.L. classes to begin in January 2017. We intend to run classes for kindergarten 1st grade, 2nd - 3rd grade, and 4th - 6th grade. The two classes for K/1 and 2/3 will run on Sunday, January 15 through Sunday, February 19 from 11:45 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. Classes for 4th through 6th grade will run Sunday, January 8 through Sunday, February 26 from 11:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. Please let Jenn Ringgold know by Sunday, January 1, 2017 if your family would like to participate. Classes are open to anyone in the community who would like to attend, so please invite family members and friends with children in kindergarten through sixth grade to participate. A parent and child informational meeting and pizza lunch will be held Saturday, January 7 from 12:00 noon until 1:00 p.m. in the UCC parlor. Attendance at this meeting is required to participate in the classes this winter. An overview of topics to be covered will be presented, as well as thoughtful activities for both parents and children to introduce the O.W.L. program and our teachers. Books needed for the class will be available for purchase. Scholarships for books are available. To RSVP or get additional O.W.L. information, contact Jenn Ringgold through the church office at 631-1136 or

During winter break there will be NO Sunday School or Childcare during the service of worship on Sunday, December 25. There will be a One Room Sunday School for preschool through 5th grade on Sunday, January 1, 2017 8

Financial Summary FINANCIAL SUMMARY October 31, 2015 (82.7% of Budget Year) Current Year

Prior Year

Pledges Paid Through October 31

$ 234,697


$ 228,249


Budgeted Income Through October 31

$ 271,876


$ 260,811


44 Days



$ 256,053

Funds Available for Budgeted Expenses $ Budgeted Expenses Paid YTD


$ 251,788


16 Days 81.2%

Pledges Paid include the total of all cash and securities received to fulfill annual pledges. Budgeted Income includes all pledged, unpledged, loose, and supplemental offerings. The percentage reflects the portion of the total amount pledged or budgeted.

Funds Available for Budgeted Expense show the amount on hand to cover further expenses and how many days these funds would cover if average monthly expenses ($26,500) are incurred. The current balances of the Pastor's Discretionary and Emergency Funds total Pastor's Discretionary Fund Pastor's Emergency Asssistance Fund

Current overall financial picture is -


0 $


Very Good

Larry Schroeder, Treasurer


The Financial corner A big "thank-you" to all that participated in our recent online survey on the use of numbered offering envelopes. We had a participation rate of about 75%, which provides the Finance Team a very clear view of user preferences. Once our analysis is complete, the Finance Team will provide an update on possible changes in 2018. The following is a summary of the survey results: Question 1: envelopes?

Do you currently use the church-supplied numbered offering Yes: 50%

No: 50% Question 2: If "Yes" to Question 1, what is the frequency? Monthly: 62% Weekly: 19% Other: 12% Quarterly: 7% Question 3: Do you know your envelope number? Yes: 49% No: 51% Question 4: If "Yes" to Question 3, would you be willing to add it to the memo line of your check to help with record keeping? Yes: 87% No: 13% Question 5: How important is it to you to have weekly offering envelopes? Not at all, don't use envelopes: 50% A little, use them, but don't need to: 33% Somewhat important, like them, but would consider change: 9% Very important, do not want to give up envelopes: 7% Other: 1% Question 6: Would you agree to change the default on the annual pledge card to actively select the option to receive a box of envelopes? Yes: 97% No: 3% 10

DECEMBER BIRTHDAYS Quinn Pancost Judy Kuehl Susan Clark David Armentrout Kate Stacy Roberta Oliver Mary DuBuis Deborah Hawkins Scott Taylor Ernie Sutton Lilliana Knizacky Brandon Geib Felix McElroy Roger Pancost

December 3 December 3 December 6 December 7 December 10 December 11 December 15 December 15 December 16 December 21 December 23 December 30 December 30 December 31

DECEMBER LECTIONARY TEXTS December 4 Second Sunday of Advent Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 Romans 15:4-13 Matthew 3:1-12 December 11 Third Sunday of Advent Isaiah 35:1-10 Psalm 146:5-10 James 5:7-10 Matthew 11:2-11

The deadline for placing poinsettia orders is Monday, December 5, 2016. Those purchasing poinsettias may take them following the Christmas Eve service on December 24 or after the service of worship on Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25th .

ADVENT DEVOTION BOOKLETS Daily devotions shared by contributions from our congregation are available now outside the church office. Pick yours up today!

December 18 Fourth Sunday of Advent Isaiah 7:10-16 Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 Romans 1:1-7 Matthew 1:18-25 December 24 Christmas Eve Isaiah 62:6-12 Psalm 97 Titus 3:4-7 Luke 2(1-7) 8-20 December 25 Christmas Day Isaiah 9:2-7 Psalm 96 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)


New Addition to the UCC Website Please take a moment to get online and check out the church website! While is a great place for visitors looking to find out more information about the church, it is also a fantastic resource for members of the congregation! All of our UCC boards and committees are actively seeking ways to engage members in utilizing the website. Under the Resources tab, you can find copies of weekly sermons, bulletins, upcoming events, links to community organizations that we work with, and a newly added page titled Conversations on Race. The last two Adult Ministry Opportunities have focused on the topic of race. These well attended classes have shown the desire to continue this much needed conversation, and led to the creation of this page. This addition to the website includes resources from the UCC national level and the Chicago Theological Seminary, as well as a historical look at what this local church has done to further the sacred conversation on race. The Board of Educational Ministries will be offering another four week class in early 2017, and you can find details about the curriculum including webinar links here https:// Visit the page and sign up if you are interested in the new class that will be offered in 2017 using the “White Privilege: Let’s Talk” curriculum!

Many Thanks Many thanks to all who helped to decorate the sanctuary at Hanging of the Greens on November 28. Putting up the decorations is certainly a joyous tradition! Please come join us again on Tuesday, January 3, at 4:00 p.m. to get all those decorations back into the bins and boxes after the holidays. There will also be some leftover Christmas cookies that need to be put away! ~ Board of Fine Arts

Our Heartfelt Thanks Thank you to those who volunteered for the Fall Clean-up on Saturday, November 12. The Board of Trustees appreciate the time and effort this group of faithful volunteers dedicated to keeping our church grounds beautiful. We couldn’t do it without you!

The Juliets will meet for lunch on the “second” Tuesday in December! We will meet at the Food Court in the Midland Mall on Tuesday, December 13th at 1:00 p.m. We hope to see you there! If questions or concerns arise, please contact Sue Rhodes or Sondi Geminder. In December the Romeos will gather at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 20th at: Turkey Hut, 3420 North Isabella Road, Midland. All are welcome to join us!

Film Series On January 22 at 3:00 p.m., the Social Concerns Committee will present the film “Equal Means Equal,” a look at the current status of women in the United States. It makes the case for why men and women should be fighting to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. This will be shown at Sheree and Carl Lovell’s home. If you plan on attending, please e-mail Sheree Lovell at, or Barb McGregor at We hope you can join us! 12

UPCOMING EDUCATIONAL MINSTRIES EVENTS December 2016 Sunday, December 4 Sunday, December 4 Saturday, December 10 Sunday, December 11 Sunday, December 11 Sunday, December 18 Saturday, December 24 Sunday, December 25

Sunday, January 1 Sunday, January 1 Saturday, January 7 Saturday, January 7 Sunday, January 8 Sunday, January 8 Sunday, January 8 Sunday, January 15 Sunday, January 15 Sunday, January 15

11:15 - 11:30 a.m. 3:00 p.m. 11:00 - 12 noon 10:00 a.m. 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. 9:00 p.m. 10:00 a.m.

Family Choir/Youth Chimes Rehearsal Measure for Measure - Founders Series Concert ALL ages Christmas Program Rehearsal Children & Youth Christmas Service of Worship Youth Group Christmas Party in the Parlor Young Adult Caffeine Small Group Candlelight Christmas Eve Worship Service Family Christmas Worship Service - no Sunday School or Childcare January 2017 One room Sunday School Last day to rsvp for OWL 9:00 a.m. Budget Reconciliation Meeting - Parlor 12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m. OWL Orientation and Pizza Lunch 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. 4th - 6th grade OWL begins - Green Door Room 11:15 a.m. Board of Educational Ministries Meeting - Blue Door Room 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. Youth Group - Parlor 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Kindergarten - 3rd Grade OWL begins - Orange Door Room 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. 4th - 6th Grade OWL - Green Door Room 2:30—3:30 p.m. Young Adult Caffeine Small Group

Service Saturdays Are Back ! On Saturday, December 10th from 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. we are resuming our local 'mission' work at the Shelterhouse Resale Store in the KMart plaza. Come and spend an hour or two sorting donations, hanging and tagging clothing, and enjoying fellowship with your UCC friends. There are also handyman types of jobs, including painting, installing racks, sorting books, and hauling larger items to the Habitat for Humanity Restore across the street. Youth over ten years of age are also welcome.


December Benevolence Giving

Your Gift Does Make A Difference Our joy at Christmas is a response to God’s promise of new life through the birth of Jesus. Prepare the way for the celebration of Jesus’ birth! The special offering for December is the Christmas Fund Offering (formerly Veterans of the Cross). Gifts are an expression of joy and gratitude for those who serve and have served the church. Funds collected provide: pension and health premium supplementation to low-income retirees of the church emergency assistance to the families of clergy and lay employees Christmas Gift Checks to hundreds of annuitants gifts to seminarians who experienced a life crisis creating a financial hardship God has always cared and provided for the people of the covenant. We can do nothing more to prepare the way for better days than follow God’s example in caring and providing for those in our midst who are experiencing the greatest need. The proceeds from the Christmas Fund provide gifts to clergy and lay employees in all life stages of their ministry to and through the United Church of Christ. For more information, please go to the web site at Envelopes will be available on the tables outside the sanctuary doors during the month of December for contributions to the Christmas Fund. Please give generously.

Matthew Christianson Benevolence Committee

Mark Your Calendars Dear Friends at U.C.C., Please join me in supporting the M. L. King celebration on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts at SVSU. The keynote speaker will be Eric H. Holder, Jr. 82nd Attorney General of the United States. The Board of Christian Community has voted to match up to $250.00 toward the event. Margaret Clark


Keeping Up with the Congregation‌ Please make a note of these changes on the appropriate page s of the church directory, Please update the email address for Chuck Gorden to: Jen Vannette has changed her email address to: If you have changes, corrections or additions to the directory, please send them to the church office.

UCC Book Club Happenings . . . The UCC Book Club will meet at 7:00 p.m. at the Thiele's, 2119 Brookfield Drive on Monday, December 12 to discuss A Man Called Ove. There will also be the annual Christmas book exchange. Bring one gift wrapped book (not one we've read for book club) to add to the auction. January we will meet at Parkhurst's on January 9 to discuss Circling the Sun.

The newsletter deadline is the eighteenth of each month prior to publication. Items for weekly bulletins are due in the church office on the Tuesday prior to the Sunday for inclusion.

Friends, I could use shoulder pads from women’s clothing in pink, red, coral and tan. These items are to be





project. ~ Margaret Clark

HOW CAN YOU HELP OUR SCHOOLS? There is an easy way to help local schools, right in your cupboard! Do any of you have any Box Tops or Labels for Education but do not have a child in school or know of anyone collecting them? Certain grocery items contain these labels that are worth 10 cents apiece, which isn't huge by itself, but they do add up fast and are a source of funding that schools use to supplement their ever undermined budgets. For anyone willing to watch out for and save these labels, a collection bucket will be available on the information table in the hallway and once a month they will be distributed to any interested families of school aged children for their respective schools to use. They do not have to be perfectly trimmed, we just need the labels in their entirety. Any help would be greatly appreciated! And for any families interested in receiving the donated labels, please contact Tessa Truitt. Thank you!!


4100 Chestnut Hill Drive Midland, Michigan 48642-6206 Tel: 989-631-1136 Fax: 989-631-3840 E-mail:

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Whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

December 2016 Newsletter  
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