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June 23, 2016
    



Fundraising Opportunity

Shop and Support Your Church! 
Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to First Congregational Church!
Help us close the budget gap while you shop at Amazon! Use the smile.amazon.com link every time you shop at Amazon and your dollars do double duty. 
Look where Jesus has been!
You are all invited to take a cutout of Flat Jesus, color and decorate him, and take him with you throughout the summer, sending pictures and stories back to the church via Facebook (tag the church!), email, or drop them by the office. We'll print photos and put them on the bulletin board in the Office corridor. 





     
Tweeting Home in La Grange

   

Have you seen that we've gone to the birds? Not literally!

The Summer Art Project of the La Grange Business Association has brought the downtown area alive with bird houses that sit on top of a 6 foot peace pole. First Congregational Church of La Grange sponsored one of these 30 pieces.

Painted by our very own Heather Leininger, our pole and bird house rests in front of the Chase Bank on S La Grange Road. Be sure to stop and take a look!
And, be sure to thank Heather for her excellent work.
 
Messy Church
Our next Messy Church will be a barbeque on July 3rd at 4:30pm! Our theme this month is Bible Roads . We hope to see you there! We'll be gathering on the Sixth Avenue lawn.
   
4:30-5:15pm: Crafts 
5:15-5:30pm: Celebration  
5:30-6:00: Dinner 
6:00-7:00: Yzal/Zackleys   


June 2016 Messy Church Photos
 




   
Feeding the Spirit!
ANNUAL WOMEN'S RETREAT - SAVE THE DATE!  
AUGUST 13 & 14 - Nurturing Our Whole Selves. Click here to register online. 
  
SUMMER WITH OUR CHILDREN
Since we will not have Summer Sunday School, please encourage your children to grab a blessing bag or a toy from the back during service!We are planning to have the nursery available for children 3 years and under, and we still need people to volunteer for the nursery.
Click Here To Volunteer 

COMMUNITY WORSHIP SERVICE
Worship in the Park!
What if all the churches in La Grange worshiped together some Sunday morning? Wouldn't that be great? Imagine all the people gathered in one place despite our differences! You won't have to imagine much longer because it will happen on August 7.

As part of La Grange's Endless Summer Celebration, the La Grange Churches will gather at 10 a.m. on Sunday, August 7 at Gordon Park. Fantastic music, a combined choir, and a lot of energy will buzz together for worship.

There will be no services that morning at First Congregational Church. Please join us at the park!

SUMMER IN SONG
Summer Musicians of all ages are invited to play, sing or ring starting in June. The choir is off for the Summer, so we need you!  Not a soloist, but want to lend your talents?  That's ok too.  Ryan will work to find an ensemble for you.  Please contact to Ryan Cox to sign-up.

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BE THE CHURCH SERIES - Summer 2016
June 5th began a new sermon series called "Be the Church," based on the graphic above, which was produced by our United Church of Christ. 
Summer Sermon Series:

June 26    Eph. 2:14-19, 3:14-19   Be the Church: Reject racism. Fight for the Powerless -No longer strangers or sojourners, but equally citizens of God.

July 3   Acts 4:32-37   Be the Church: Share earthly and spiritual resources - Share, like your mother taught you to.

July 10   Gal. 3:26-29   Be The Church: Embrace Diversity - Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. One of the best things about FCCLG is its diversity. 

July 17   Deut. 6:4-13  Be The Church: Love God. Enjoy this Life. - The Shema  

SUMMER IN SERVICE TO OTHERS - REACHING OUT

FCCLG to Partner with Drug Free Coalition
The Missions-sponsored Conversation Circles that took place in May engaged 22 FCCLG members and friends in lively and passionate discussion of topics of social concern. Participants chose the heroin crisis as the focus for action. To address the issue effectively, FCCLG has decided to partner with a newly formed, broad-based community group, the Drug Free Coalition of Lyons Township. The mission of the DFCLT is to change attitudes, encourage action, and mobilize stakeholders around the issues of underage drinking, impaired driving, and substance misuse. There are many opportunities for involvement, both large and small. If you'd like to help, please contact Nancy Heil at 708-482-4309 or at nancyjo336@gmail.com .
                                     
BEDS Plus VOLUNTEERS NEEDED 
This summer BEDS Plus is offering a transitional summer shelter. The program is modeled after other successful programs around the region that provide a smaller-scale summer shelter program for clients who need additional time to achieve stability.  

Our Congregation will host this transitional program for the week of July 10-17. While we are not responsible for providing volunteers, you are welcome to volunteer. Second shift volunteers are needed. If you'd like to volunteer, or need more information email  volunteer@beds-plus.org.  

SATURDAY MEALS PROGRAM VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
Our Saturday Meals Program has been providing three meals to guests each Saturday since February 2000. If your interested in volunteering please contact:
Beth Colby (Volunteer Coordinator)

ST. BARBARA'S FOOD PANTRY COLLECTION
This month St. Barbara's is especially in need of the following: laundry soap, dish soap, cat or dog food, peanut butter, cake mixes, and Jell-o gelatin and pudding. Other nonperishable foods are appreciated as well.

When grocery shopping, try to remember the phrase "one for others." Beyond helping others, keeping the hungry in mind helps us, too, by reminding us to be grateful for what we can afford. If you go shopping with children, letting a child choose an item for others is a good way to encourage thinking of those in need.

TOUCH LIST

Prayer is at the heart of our relationship with God. Please lift these friends, family, and members in your prayers.
 
We lament the loss of 50 innocent lives to fear, hatred, and bigotry in Orlando.
Emil and Maria Balz, who are both in rehabilitation.
LuAnn Hall, who is recovering from surgery.
Our thoughts are with LuAnn Hall's niece Jessica.
Bert Happel, Jim Happel's brother.
The family & friends of William Hoff, who died on June 16.
Linda Lauterbach's friend Sophia, her husband, and 22 month old son; Sophia has a brain tumor.
The family & friends of Ruth Miller, mother of Jan Moellman, who died on May 17th age 101.
Petra Palmer's granddaughter's friend Summer who is having chemotherapy for leukemia.
Helen Pancner, Viola Clayton's daughter, who has continuing health struggles.
Jennifer Powers as she deals with health issues.
The family and friends of Robert Crawford, Janet Roman's brother and Sandra McLaughlin's uncle, who died on June 17th.
Ron Sander, Erik Sander's father, as he and his family manage his ongoing illness.
Rev. Carly, as she recovers, slowly but surely.

Fellowship and Fun!
ZACKLEY'S AND YZALS
The Zackleys and Yzals will meet on the first of the month after Messy Church 6-7:15 during the summer.  

HOOKS AND NEEDLES
The knitting and crocheting ministry meets in homes this summer at 7pm on the 2nd and 4th Mondays, June through August. It is a fun time to relax and sip lemonade while working on lap blankets and prayer shawls. Please join us. All are welcome.

June 27: Mary Forester
July 11: Linda Lauterbach
July 25: Claudia Byrne
August 8: Barb Hultman
August 22: Debbie Llewellyn

FOOSBALL FRENZY 

  
Let's get together and play some ball... against other non-profit groups in town. Foosball is just like the table game but with real people  .

Won't you join our Foosball team? Playing requires only that you can hold on to the rail and kick a ball. And, as 7 of our members can attest, it is a lot of fun. If you'd like to join the foosball frenzy, contact Carly before July 15.

FALL KICK OFF - Save the Date! 
We'll be kicking off the new year on Sunday, September 11 with a fun filled picnic and activities for all ages immediately after worship on the Sixth Avenue lawn. Get this on your calendar so you don't miss out on the fun!      
Feeding Your Mind!


ASK THE PASTOR
There were several questions that did not get addressed in our May 8th "Ask the Question" time. Look for them here in the Tidings over the next couple of months. Here's the second installment.

How are you so sure there is a God?

This may sound like a word game, or semantics, but....

I am NOT certain there is a God. But I have faith that there is, and choose to live my life according to that belief. Let me explain the difference between certainty and faith.

Certainty and being "sure" are about knowledge; one can only be sure about what is proven and that which is definitively known beyond the shadow of a doubt. Certainty is about provable facts that show unquestionable results. It is the observable proof of knowledge gained by reproducible data. You can know that 1 + 1 = 2. You know that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and it will happen on the eastern horizon. These things are generally provable by scientific, empirical methods. Any doubts about known things can be tested and the truth affirmed through empirical evidence.

Faith is not about knowledge; faith is a choice to believe that something is true for you because of your experience and your own conclusions. You have faith that you will wake up in the morning. You have faith that you will pass the driver's license exam. You have faith that the seed will sprout and grow to produce a harvest. You have faith that your parents, spouse, children, family will always love and support you. These are all things over which you not only have no control, you cannot prove them scientifically or empirically. You believe them based upon your past experiences; your future behavior is influenced by your belief that they are true. When you doubt the truth of these, you test them, ask questions, seek answers, listen for how others have dealt with their doubts about them. As a result of doubt, you gain a deeper understanding of what it is you believe.

The same is true of God. We cannot empirically prove that God exists. Neither science nor reason can make an infallible case for the existence of God. Many have tried! I believe that God exists based upon my experience of God in my life. I have had many doubts over the years; I have questioned, tested, rebelled, disobeyed, misbehaved (well, let's stop there!) and landed upon the same conclusion: God is for real! God's love knows no limits. (We'll come back to that in the next question.). I cannot prove the truth of this in scientific terms. I can only speak about my experience with God: impossible situations that are solved despite my poor handling of them, discovering that an idea or plan that I have coincides or compliments that of another who I felt the unexplainable urge to include, music and lyrics that pop into my head that force me to examine their meaning and apply it to my current situation, and giving up on a dream only to have it come true despite my surrender. These experiences might be explained as coincides. I choose to believe that are the work of One far greater than me. And that choice influences how I live my life, the consequent choices I make, and the direction I work to lead others.

This choice did not come easily to me. I fought it tooth and nail. My rational and concrete thinking wanted to write the whole religion thing off as a bunch of hooey. And I tried very hard to ignore it. But it kept coming back into my life, into my path away from it, and finally just sat on top of me until I could do nothing less than walk that path.

In order to find the experiences of God, we have to take the time to sit back and reflect upon where we have been, what we have done, what has worked out despite our errors and faux pas. Where have there been events or experiences that don't make rational or scientific sense? How has your life been changed by things beyond your (and in spite of your attempts to) control? The experience of God is most often found in reflection; it is found in silence, in solitude, in crowds, amidst noise, in music, in art - reflections of living. But when it happens in real time, it's like being rolled over by a huge wind and you have no doubt you've been broadsided.

I am not certain there is a god. I live a life of faith because I have experienced the unexplainable and found it to be trustworthy, constant, and real; upon this belief, I base my living, my choices, and my path in life.
 
Does God love Donald Trump?

Yes. God loves Donald Trump because God sees him, as God sees each of us, not as he is, but as the very best he could possibly be. If God were to judge us as we are, none of us would pass mustard. God sees us as the fulfillment of our greatest potential to be God's children, Christ's hands and feet, and the Spirit's mouthpiece. None of us are fully there: you, me, or Donald Trump.

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THE JESUS SEMINAR: THEOLOGY AND POLITICS,
THEN AND NOW
September 16 & 17, 2016
Naperville, Illinois

Does the Reformation still matter? If so, why? 

What can religion offer a society that values science and reason?

How are we to explain the relationship between religion and politics?

Of what use is theology?

For hundreds of years, Christian theology served as the cornerstone of social, cultural, and economic relationships in the west. But with the Protestant Reformation that foundation began to shift. And questions raised back then, about secular society, Christianity, and the future of religion, still persist today. Here David Galston and Jeffrey Robbins will assess theology's past and its future.

The Event will be hosted by:
DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church
1828 Old Naperville Road
Naperville, IL 60563

Register on line at this link. 

For local information, contact:
Reverend Tom Capo
revcapo@gmail.com


News and Notes

WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE REMODELING?

As many of you will remember, the sale of the Manse and the added lot adjacent to the manse provided added funds for our church. Town meetings with the congregation which were held by the "Dream Team" settled on the idea that part of these funds be dedicated for making improvements to the Church plant to encourage the generation of income for the church. A list of projects was generated, prioritized and presented to the church council for approval.

The decision of the church council was to use $250,000 of these funds to pay for prioritized projects until the funds were depleted. The highest priority project was the installation of air conditioning in the Sanctuary and the Founders' Room. The reasoning was that this installation would allow our congregation to realize income from added weddings and receptions in these facilities.

To that end Bids were requested from three prospective bidders for the installation of these systems. One bid was received with all other bidders declining to bid. Subsequent solicitation of bids from two additional contractors was unsuccessful.

The one bid received was for $192,000 which was substantially more than the original preliminary estimate of $125,000 provided by Heat Engineering Corporation. Negotiations decreased the bid amount to $180,000. Adding other costs and contingency increased the total project cost to $220,000.

Much of the increase was due to changes to the original design made by an independent engineer hired by the church to review the system. His analysis determined that the original design was lacking adequate air distribution in the Founders' Room and the Sanctuary.

Additionally, other costs were not included in the original estimate including engineering, permitting, the addition of an air conditioning unit in the Bride's room, and the relocation of the chimes to make room for two air handling units in the Sanctuary. Changes in the design were also made to be more sensitive to the aesthetics of the two areas. The equipment was also upgraded to provide for a more robust design.

With this increase in the cost of our first priority, the team has determined that the following projects can be accomplished:
  1. Installation of air conditioning in the Sanctuary, Founders' Room, bride's room and women's washroom.
  2. Upgrades to the Founders' Room kitchen to encourage use of the Founder's room for receptions and other functions.
  3. Replacement of the Founders' Room carpet.
Depending on the actual costs of these projects, it is possible that the replacement of the Sanctuary carpeting could also be accomplished, but will have to wait until the completion of the higher priority projects above to assure that funds are available for its execution without exceeding the $250,000 maximum set by the Council.

Additionally, two other aspects of the overall project will be completed:  the repair and painting of the Founders' Room ceiling has been funded by our insurer; and the reupholstering of the pew pads has been funded by individuals within the congregation. While these are funded from outside of the $250K allocated to remodeling, they remain part of the overall project's scope .

We invite and encourage your comments and questions regarding this development. Please call either Jerry Palmer (708) 408-9243 or Rev. Carly Stucklen-Sather (708)- 352-0800. Both of us will also be available to talk with you before or after the church service this next Sunday, June 26. I look forward to your input.

Peace,
Jerry Palmer
Project Coordinator

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BABY NEWS 
Congratulations to Todd and Betsy Dunlap on the birth of baby George on May 10.  Brother Gabriel Nunez and sister Abigail Dunlap celebrate with mom and dad.  Welcome George!  

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LOST: POP UP TENT 
Lost and Not Found:  
Miraculous things happen in churches - Inanimate objects grow legs and walk! The most recent item in this category is a 10' X 10' Pop-up tent that was generously lent to us by a member. You've seen this tent most recently at last Fall's Kick Off Sunday on the church's lawn on 6th Avenue. Previously, it's been used at the Pet Parade for water sales - but this year it was not to be found. If you have sighted this miraculous tent walking or resting somewhere, please let the office staff know so we can return it to its owner.
 

THIS  WEEK IN OUR CHURCH