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First Congregational

United Church of Christ

... exploring the frontiers of faith in Jesus

Pastor's Corner

something new
See! I am Doing a New Thing!

I hope this note finds you well in the midst of this Advent season-a time when believers remember the birth of the Christ child and look forward to his eventual return. It's a season that I feel also describes where we are as a congregation. This year alone First Congregational UCC has called a new Pastor and Teacher (Thank you!), a new Music Director, a new Custodian, and begun seriously discerning where our talents and resources and the needs of the Cedar Valley meet. I believe that we are leaving 2018 in a great position to do some truly amazing Gospel-filled work.

I can also understand that can also leave you a little tired and nervous about what's next. Uncertainty can be frightening. It can make one hesitant about what's around the corner. Change is risky.

Just know that we are not the first group of faith-filled people to feel this way. My Advent devotional reading this morning led me to Isaiah 43. In this chapter the prophet speaks to a people who are going somewhere but just haven't arrived there yet and have expressed doubt about the whole journey. God reminds them that "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" The Lord will get them to where they need to be, all they have to do is put one foot in front of the other.

What does this have to do with FCUCC? A critical part of us making the journey and seeing where God is leading us is having adequate financial resources. Our church has a history of generosity that can be seen in our talented staff, beautiful building, outreach to the community, and religious education. We can Be The Church because of that history of support. We are a generous community.

We have enjoyed a balanced budget for the past several years. Unfortunately, we are projected to have a serious shortfall as we enter 2019. This shortfall, if left unaltered, makes our ministry efforts harder to carry out in the next year. I invite you to take time this week to faithfully discern if you wish to change your pledge amount. Please contact the Office Manager by phone or email if that is the case.

I cannot wait to see where God is taking us in the New Year. As always I am honored to be your Pastor and Teacher. See you Sunday!

Pastor Scott

Christmas Fund Offering

Christmas Fund
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This fund helps to provide pension and health premium supplementation to lower-income retired church workers, emergency assistance to clergy and lay church employees in need, and Christmas "Thank You" gift checks to hundreds of annuitants, administered by the pension board. The offering will be collected at our December 23rd morning worship service. To learn more, you can visit the Christmas Fund Home Page.

It's A Boy!

boyCooper Anderson Mejia was born on November 12, 2018. He weighed 9 lbs, 8oz, and was 21 3/4 inches. Proud parents are Robert and Jill Mejia, brothers Teddy and Charlie, grandparents Craig and Karen Jensen, and great-grandparents Charles and Catherine Jensen. Congratulations!

Festival of Trees

Christmas Fund
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Our first Festival of Trees was such a huge success at the Bazaar! Weren't they all just beautiful? We are planning to purchase the trees for next year's Bazaar during the after Christmas sales, so if you are interested in decorating a tree, please let Connie Jo, Jayne or Jill know and we will sign you up! It doesn't have to be just you- you can partner up with someone and decorate together or a family can sign up to decorate a tree, etc. We will provide the trees and you get to show off your creative decorating skills and decorate the tree from head to toe. We don't need to know your theme right now, just if you want to decorate one so we can be sure to get it during the clearance sales. Thank you in advance!!

New Dinner Class Coming!

A new Thursday night dinner class will begin on January 10th. You can purchase the book, "Tribal Church - Ministering to the Missing Generation" from Amazon or from us. Please r.s.v.p. with a check for $15 (if purchasing the book through us) to Michelle in the office by Wednesday, January 2nd. All are welcome!

Mitten Tree!

mitten treeAs winter blows in, don't forget to bring in your hats, scarves, and mittens to decorate the Mitten Tree in the Crossroads area of the church. All contributions will help someone stay warmer this winter!

Sunday School
December 16, 2018

Gathering (9:00 - 9:15 am)

Youth and adults meet for singing, praying and mission news.
Chapel

Classes (9:15 - 10:15 am)

CHILDREN
Children from Pre-K up to 5th grade meet with Jayne Slaughter in the upstairs Sunday School Room. The children will learn to tie scriptural truth into their own lives.

YOUTH
Students 6th grade and up will gather upstairs in the Murphy Youth Room with Hannah and Paul Prescott. The youth will learn how being "Plugged In" to God can make their lives even better!

ADULT FORUM
Adults meet in the chapel to discuss how the Bible relates to our lives today.

Women's Book Study meets in the Friendship Room

Advent Study Series

study Join us for an Advent Study Series led by Pastor Scott. Each Thursday evening we will be looking at UCC scholar Walter Bruggeman's "Names for the Messiah." We start with a potluck dinner at 6:00 pm with discussion beginning around 6:30. Everyone is welcome!

Christmas Caroling

CarolsJoin us for our annual caroling at 5:00 pm at the church on Sunday, December 16th! We will divide into groups and go out into the community to spread Christmas cheer.

Bring some goodies to share when we meet back at the church after caroling is done. Drinks will be provided.

Sanctuary at Christmas

You are invited to a Jazz Christmas Concert featuring Hands of Time Quartet on Sunday, December 16th from 12:30 to 1:30pm. The concert will be held at United Church of Christ in Cedar Falls.
(9204 University Ave. - CF)

Last Chance to Order Your Poinsettias!

poinsettiaIt's that time of year! With Christmas coming, it is time to place your order for Poinsettias to decorate our church sanctuary. You may write out the information and place in the offering plate or call Michelle at the church office. Orders must be received by Sunday, December 16th. ($12.00 per plant)

We will be ordering live poinsettias this year! You may take your poinsettia(s) home with you after the late Christmas Eve service.

Please make checks payable to First Congregational Church (write "poinsettia" in memo).

Poinsettia(s) given by: _____________
"In Memory of....": _______________ or
"In Honor of....": ___________________

The Longest Night:
December 21

We often grieve for loved ones who are absent from our holiday celebrations each year, yet we also find that not many want to talk about it with us. At the Longest Night Service on December 21st, we can come just as we are, offer prayers into the long darkness, hear God's promises of love that transcend death, and remember the new life we will one day share with all whom we love. Service begins at 7PM and All Are Welcome.

Christmas Eve Services

candlelight

As is our custom, FCC-UCC will be hosting two services on Christmas Eve, December 24. The earlier, 5:30 PM, service is family-oriented. Before the service, beginning at 5 PM, the Touch of Brass bell choir will set the mood with a half hour concert! The service includes a Christmas Pageant from the FCUCC Youth, carols, and a lesson from Pastor Scott.

The later one, beginning at 11:00 PM, is a Traditional Candlelight service. We will hear the Christmas story through scripture and song.

Of course, you can also attend both! All are welcome.

Historic Church Row Neighborhood Opportunity

Food Bank We are again partnering with Blessed Sacrament to package meals for the NE Iowa Food Bank on March 13, 2019. Right now they are raising funds to purchase the ingredients so a new goal of 50,000 units serving 4-6 people at a price of $0.25/ serving can be reached. If you would like to contribute financially to this very worthwhile local, ecumenical project, please just mark your donation "Blessed Sacrament Food". Thank you for your support!

Ask Me Anything Sunday!

wonderingHave you ever had a question about Christianity? The Church? The UCC? Sunday, December 30th will be "Ask Me Anything Sunday." You are invited to submit questions to the Church Office all this month. Pastor Scott will randomly select questions that morning during the sermon and try his best to answer them on the spot. Ask away!