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November 13, 2015

Peace and grace to the ministers and saints of La Grange and beyond from Carly, called to be prophet and teacher, proclaimer and disclaimer amongst you. On this cold and windy November day, I give thanks for your care for me and my family in this time of mourning and loss. Your cards and notes mean a great deal to me. My thanks to each of you.

I have been absent much of the last three weeks: first with illness and then with a death in my family. It is assuring and humbling to see that the church has gone about its business without me! Worship happened. The stewardship campaign is nearly complete. A major sale and removal of excess church "stuff" took place. A successful Craft Sale brought in many people. The All-Teams meeting accomplished a lot of planning and communication. Messy Church celebrated being the Light of God. And a musical production and brunch were set to launch this Saturday. We are all ministers with gifts and graces to share in the effort to make a difference in the lives of all God's people and upon the earth. This church family does have what it takes to pull together and accomplish the work we are called to do.

That said, it is time to have a proverbial "come to Jesus" conversation.

As many of you learned in the Stewardship meals, we are at a crucial time in the life of our congregation*. For many years we have leaned upon the gifts left to us from earlier generations in the form of an endowment. Drawing from the principle of these funds depleted the resource. In 2012 the congregation made the decision to stop this practice. We decided that we would wean ourselves from this spending over a three year cycle. This year, 2015, is the last year we can draw from our reserves to meet our expenses. Three approaches to closing the gap were approved by the congregation: staff reductions, creative income recommendations through sharing the building with non-profits and outside organizations, and increased member giving.

Staff Reductions: The staff was reduced and salaries cut; our personnel expenses are at the lowest possible amount without further reduction of staff. Currently, we have a full time pastor and an almost full time music director; the remaining staff members are part time. 

Building Sharing/Leasing:
We have signed covenants with two groups who now share our space and we continue to seek both exclusive use and shared use possibilities. Our projected income from current space sharing covenants in 2016 is $42,500. Our estimate for one time use arrangements (weddings, meetings, venue events) is $3000. This can increase if we are able to share the remaining 2 office spaces and attract more weddings and onetime events to our space.

Increased member giving:
Since the acceptance of the Alban plan, average giving has remained within $100 per year per giving unit of where it was in 2012. While the number of pledges has increased, the average pledge has dropped to $355. Our largest number of members still give nothing to the annual budget; our second largest number give less than $250.

Here's the skinny: The cost of our ministry was $373,200. Approximately $45,500 will be funded by space sharing in 2016. That leaves $327,700 to be funded by the congregation. That works out to $6302 per week. The average attendance in our congregation is 119. That works out to $52.96 per person per week. Now, if all 283 households in the congregation were to participate financially, the average cost per household per week would be $22.27. Among our members, only 42% of households participate financially.   Let me be perfectly clear: our faith community is being funded primarily by fewer than 42% of the member households. Of the member households that participate financially, 59% do not contribute the cost of ministry if every household were participating and 76% do not contribute the cost per person attending worship. If we continue in this way, we can have a ministry, a staff, or a building; we cannot have all three.

In 2016, we cannot draw from our reserves to close the gap between member giving and the cost of doing ministry. This will leave a $37,000 difference of available income from our 2015 finances that must be made up by participants in our congregation. If we are to continue to be a progressive Christian presence in our community, each of us must participate fully in the ministry through prayer, activity, and finances.

I believe this congregation has a place and a future in this community. We have a viable and attractive vision and mission. We are each ministers with gifts and graces to share in the effort to make a difference in the lives of all God's people and upon the earth. This church family does have what it takes to pull together and accomplish the work we are called to do. Do we have the generosity to fund that work?

Please give generously; please complete your 2016 pledge card. Doing these will help us know what we can accomplish in the coming year.

Blessings,
Carly

*A copy of the narrative from the Stewardship Meals can be found on the church's website.

Church News and Reminders

MESS Y CH URCH MEETINGS 
Join us for our next Messy Church meeting which will be on Friday, December 4th! Click here for the current flyer.






DINE OUT FOR BUDDY'S PLACE
From November 16th to 22nd, Culver's in Lyons (8211 Ogden Ave.) will donate a percentage of sales back to Buddy's Place, Pillar's bereavement support program for children, teens, and their families. Pick up a flyer in the office or mention Buddy's Place to help out.
 
HARVEST HOME DINNER
Please mark your calendars for W e dnesday, November 18th at 6:30 pm and plan to attend the annual Harvest Home Dinner. Tickets are on sale after worship and in the church office. Adults are $8, children ages 3 to 12 are $4, and children under 3 are free! Want to lend a hand? Sign-up to help prepare or serve food. Sign-up sheets are in the office as well.

WORD FOR ALL AGES is a very special time during worship where children are the focus, but adults can better understand the scripture as well. The Ministry of Worship and staff invite you to share in leading this part of worship. We will provide you with fabulous resources for your preparation. Please let Ryan , Sylvia , or Carly know you are interested and we can schedule a Sunday for you.
 
Volunteer Opportunities

FCCLG'S WINTER WARRIORS
Winter is coming and the Property Committee needs your shovel! For the past three years, we have relied on the congregation to volunteer their time to clear snow and provide a safe entry to the building. Unfortunately the number of volunteers has shrunk and we need a larger pool of winter warriors.
Please contact Erik Sander (at erik_sander@sbcglobal.net) or the office to volunteer yourself (or your spouse or children) and be sure to include your cell phone number to receive snow alerts texts. This is not an obligation to clear snow each week. A larger number of contacts increases the chance of more help, which is especially critical with the mid-week snowfalls that are not so convenient with our personal schedules.
Did you know...
  • By relying on volunteers, the Church saves $4k every year that would have to be spent on a snow clearing service.
  • Eight volunteers can have the church grounds cleared in less than an hour. With one or two volunteers, it takes much longer.
  • Clearing snow as a group actually makes for great Fellowship. Seriously!
  • We have traded the troublesome tractor for a new, cool, and powerful snow thrower that is much easier to operate. We will add a second new snow thrower to shorten the time it takes to clear the parking lot and driveway.
  • Everyone can help, even those who can't shovel -       operating the snow throwers and salt spreaders are noble and essential deeds.

CRISIS ADVOCATE TRAINING
Pillars is offering two trainings in December and January for volunteers and/or professionals interested in becoming Crisis Advocates. Attendees will learn to provide medical and legal advocacy to victims and their families affected by sexual violence at local hospital ERs and police departments. Contact the office or go to pillarscommunity.org calendar for more information.

Ministry Teams 
Ministry Team members wanted: What makes your heart sing? Do you long to change the lives of God's children? Have a heart for mission? Is hospitality your gift? Are you a leader? As the year comes quickly to a close, our ministry teams are looking for your gifts and graces. How will you serve God? See Chris Moe or Pastor Carly if you want to make change happen.
 
Honey Do List at Churc h 
The Property Committee seeks your help in doing maintenance and repairs around the church! Please take on what ever makes your heart sing!  We need all skills -  from carpentry to electrical to planting to sorting to hauling to cleaning and organizing.  Although the date says November 30, please sign up and complete this at your convenience. Sign up here   or our Opportunity Board during Fellowship Time.
        
Laundry Heroes 
Sign up to be a laundry hero. This is a simple, eco-friendly and meaningful project. Just pick up the laundry at your convenience, from outside the kitchen and bring it back the Saturday morning that follows by 7am. If you have any questions, call the church office or email Marilyn Russell  

                   Greeters
We need Sun day greeters at the east door o f the church at 9:45 am to welcome all who come. Please sign up on Sign-Up Genius, in the Founders Room after church,
                                             or call Ann Fish at  
                                             708-352-7084.
In Our Church

THIS  WEEK IN OUR CHURCH
 
CRAFT FAIR NEWS
Thanks to all who came to the Craft Fair! We made $1,335.00. And thanks to the crafters who made it all possible:
Debbie Bradley, Claudia Byrne, Sarah Carr, Betsy Colombe, Mary Cooper, Debbie Dreffein, Susan Fagan, Ann Fish, Mary Forester, Jenny Giest, Olivia Hein, Barbara Hultman, Dick Lauterbach, Linda Lauterbach, Debbie Llewellyn, Margaret Melkonian, Bobbie Nunez, Marilyn Pfizenmaier, Amanda Ries, Chris Sass, Susan Schwall, and Rose Taylor.
Thanks to Jerry Byrne, Dick Lauterbach, and Gary Melkonian for carrying and moving. Thanks to Daniela and Ginger for cheerfully doing everything we requested.

COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING SERVICE
Every year, members of the Christian Churches in the La Grange area gather to give thanks and praise to God just prior to Thanksgiving. This year's Community Thanksgiving Service will take place at the First Baptist Church ( 20 N Ashland Ave, La Grange) on November 22 at 7:00 pm. All are welcome!

HANGING OF THE GREENS
Advent is coming! Come join the tradition of decorating our church inside and out. It happens Saturday November 28th, starting at 9 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Contact Deb Gardiner or the office for more information.

GIFTS OF GRATITUDE
Each Christmas, Casa Central, the largest Hispanic social service agency in the Midwest, spreads hope, joy and laughter to its clients through the Holiday Magic Program. FCCLG supports this program through our Gifts of Gratitude offering which will take place on Sunday, December 6. We have 140 names of children, teens and older adults who are part of the Casa Central programs. Ornaments will be available on November 15 on the tree in the back of the sanctuary. The gifts need to be new and wrapped with the original tag securely attached to the gift bag or box. The suggested amount is $20-30 per name chosen. Gift cards can be purchased from Target or Walmart. Please note that when you choose a name, you are committing to a gift and to bringing it in before or on December 6. The gifts will be picked up on December 7, so we must have all gifts at the end of the worship service on Dec. 6. Thank you for supporting this worthy mission project! 
 

CHRISTMAS COOKIE EXCHANGE
It is time for you to find that favorite Christmas Cookie recipe to bake and bring to the annual Cookie exchange. Please provide three dozen cookies on December 20th, one dozen of everyone's to be shared at Coffee Hour. Nurture will provide you with a delicious plateful of each participant's baked goods. Your container will be returned to you that day. Happy Holiday Baking!

ST. BARBARA'S FOOD PANTRY COLLECTION
St. Barbara's food pantry shelves are in need of supplies. They can
use toilet paper, soup, beans, peas, corn, jelly, tuna, chili, spaghetti sauce, pasta, and hamburger/tuna helper. If you wish to donate, receptacles for the food are outside the sanctuary. Your donations are much appreciated!

PRAYER SQUARES 
A basket located at the back of the sanctuary ho ld s prayer squares that have been blessed. They are sized to   f it in a pocket or purse. Please take one a s a tangible symbol of G od's love and grace when you are in need of comfort.   
    
UPDATING YOUR INFORMATION
The FCCLG website has a link to Access. Just go to www.fcclg.org, click the Connect With Us tab and then click on Member Census Data.
 
Music News
Brass, Pipes, and Brunch II
Join us in the Sanctuary and Founder's Room on November 14 at 10:30 am. This year we will feature the Carillon Handbell Choir, Michael Brozick on trumpet, Ryan Cox, baritone and Patricia Spencer on organ & piano. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, and are available starting October 4th. Proceeds go to "Friends of Music" to help sponsor the December Choral Sermon and the "Instrument Repair Fund" which helps pay for re-leathering the sanctuary last week. Your support is greatly appreciated.

"Joyful Noise" Hymn Sing will be during worship on November 22 and you are invited to play the instrument you regularly practice, or one you need to dust off. Pros and amateurs alike will combine their talents to joyfully accompany the hymns. Children and youth who are confident players are invited too! Let Ryan know if you would like to be a part of the ensemble. You will get music to practice at home and we will rehearse as a group the morning of at 9:15 am.
 
 
CYD News

Zackley Bake Sale 
Order some yummy baked goods for Thanksgiving. Click here for the Zackley dessert order form. The last day to order is Monday, November 16th.

Yzals
 
The Yzals group (grades 6 to 8) will meet next on November 8 at 6:30 pm. They meet the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. 
 
Zackleys 
The Zackleys group (grades 9 to 12) continues to meet on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month at 6:30 pm.   
Adult Education

Let's Start at the Beginning

Maria, from "The Sound of Music" reminds us to "start at the very beginning-a very good place to start." In that spirit, Carly will offer a Confirmation Refresher Course. This is an introduction/review of the faith traditions of Western
Christianity. Everyone is invited! 

We'll be using Martin Copenhaver's book, To Begin at the Beginning. This is an informal, conversational gathering. We will meet in the Drawing Room from 8:30 to 9:20 on Sunday
Mornings. There will be coffee!

The book is available at the local bookstore, on Amazon, Half.com, or a limited number of copies from Carly . It is an easy read, but each week will require that you read the chapter before class. We'll follow the outline of the book in sections, taking a break between each section.
  
Part Two: The Church as the Body of Christ: Nov 1 - Dec 6.
            November 15: The Church's Book
               November 22: The Church at Worship
               November 29: Baptism with Water and the Spirit
            December 6: No class (Thanksgiving weekend)
               December 13: Eating at Christ's Table

Part 3: What Is Promised, What is Required Jan 10 -Feb 7
            January 10: Conversing with God
            January 17: Resurrection to Eternal Life
               January 24: Doing Faith
               January 31: Sharing the News
               February 7: The Invitation

Looking Ahead

*Annual Reports are Around the Corner:
Heads up to all Team Leaders, Committee Chairs and Officers: Very soon you will receive a letter informing you that you are responsible for submitting a report to be published in the Annual Report. If you receive it and are NOT the person responsible for your committee report, please make sure you either inform he other person, OR let Ginger or Daniela know who is responsible! November and December are very busy times of the year for EVERYONE. Time gets away from all of us so "don't put off until tomorrow what you can do TODAY!." Your promptness will be appreciated!
 
Church Calendar Events 
November 14th at 10:30 am Brass, Pipes, and Brunch II
November 18th at 6:30 pm Harvest Home Dinner
November 28th at 9:00 am Hanging of the Greens 
Touch List

Your Cards and Prayers Will Comfort and Touch...
 
 
The Balz family.
Rita Baumann, Mary Cooper's aunt who is recovering from surgery.
Tom Dewese as he recovers from heart surgery.
Deb Gardiner and Dan Zigulich's niece who's recovering from a liver transplant.
Jenny Geist's mother, Bonnie, who is recovering from surgery.
Nancy Haiman who is recovering from surgery to remove a melanoma.
Our thoughts are with LuAnn Hall's niece Jessica.
Olivia Hein's grandmother, Dorothy Woods who died on November 7th.
Lois Hindman, who is house bound with a brain condition.
The family of Kathleen McConnellogue who died on October 21st.
The family and friends of Jack Middleton, Carly Stucklen Sather's brother in law.
Camilla Norby.
Helen Pancer, Viola Clayton's daughter who is receiving chemotherapy.
Jennifer Powers as she deals with health issues.
Euvon Radel, Ceil Bolton & Priscilla Laff's aunt, who is in the final stages of colon cancer.
Sandra Sayles , who is recovering at home.