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October 15, 2015

Peace and grace to the saints and sinners, the rich and poor, the faithful and the doubters of La Grange and beyond from Carly, called to be prophet, teacher, pastor, and vision caster with and among you.

Living away from the farm fields, it is easy to forget that Autumn is the time of harvest. In Ohio, I took many bike rides around the "country blocks" - the one mile by one mile squares that marked the homesteaded farms. Being in the shadow of the Campbell's plant, it was not unusual to see 20 huge trucks of vegetables pass me on a 10 mile ride. Along the sides of the road I would often see evidence of the very full trucks that had passed by: stray carrots, sweet potatoes, soy beans, green beans, tomatoes, cabbages, and occasionally watermelons. These would fall out of the hoppers behind the trucks. There was such an abundance that the drivers did not feel the need to cover the trucks or slow down for the bumps in the road. The mice and birds were the happy gleaners who benefited from the spill straying fruits.

The Bible tells us that when we harvest, we are to not harvest the edges of the fields and vineyards so that the aliens, widows, and orphans can glean the fields and be fed (Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:21). Scripture also tells us to set aside the first portion of the harvest for our tithe to honor God (Deut 14:22ff) and to provide for the aliens, widows, orphans, and those with no allotments or inheritances; we are to keep the remaining 90% for ourselves.

Friends, in a non-agrarian community, our "harvest," the fruit of our labor, is our paycheck. Our bounty is evident in our grocery cart and on our restaurant tabs. How are you doing at following these Biblical instructions? Do you set aside the first portion of each paycheck to give to those who have less than you? Do you leave some of your groceries in the collection box for the food bank? Or are you more like the trucks that are flowing in abundance and leave only what happens to fall out along the way?

The truth is that even a U.S. household earning $34,000 a year (140% of the US Poverty threshold) is wealthier than 99% of the rest of the world. We may not feel rich, but in a world economy, most of us are in the top 1%! Sadly, since 1968, the charitable giving of households in the U.S. has dropped steadily and is now at an all time low: 2.2% of household income. This is far from what the Realm of God requires we share with others.

My challenge to each of you is this: Choose to set aside at least 5% of your monthly income to give to a local charity of your choice, and make do with the remaining 95%. Generosity by all is a requirement for making real the Realm of God in our midst. It forces us to think first of others. It draws our focus away from ourselves. It reflects the extravagant generosity and grace of God.

Unlike certain purveyors of the gospel of prosperity, I will not tell you that giving your money to God will cure all your woes. I will not tell you where to send your gifts and offerings. I will not promise that generosity will make you financially rich. I will promise you, however, that practicing generosity will bring you spiritual satisfaction.

In this season of abundant harvest, be generous with all you have.

Blessings,
Carly
Church News and Reminders

Get ting ready for Messy Church Meetings
Our f irst open-to-the-public Messy Church will be November 6 at 5 pm! To prepare for this ministry, we will meet October 18 t h and November 1st at 11:15 in the Drawing Room. Anyone inter ested in helping is welcome to attend to see how they can help out. If you are interested in helpin g, but cannot attend the meetings, please  contact Sylvia. We are v ery excited about this opportunity to Accept All in our neighborhood, Reach Out in a new way, and hope that in doing so we truly Touch the Lives of those attending!


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
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.


Lawn Mowing
Sign up to help keep the church lawns looking their best. We have both a self propelled mower and a rechargeable mower for you to use. This includes the front, back and side lawns. The sign-up day and time are listed as Saturdays, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, but the actual day and time you mow is flexible.  
          
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
 
CALLING ALL CROP WALKERS AND DONATORS
  We hope to get a large number of walkers from FCCLG for this year's Crop Walk. It will be this Sunday, October 18 starting at the First Methodist Church of La Grange with registration beginning at 12:30 pm. The walk beginning at 1 pm. This is a 3 mile interfaith walk to raise funds to end hunger in our local community and the world. Our own Saturday Meals Program receives funds from this walk. If you cannot walk, please support a walker. You can donate online here (with Carly and others in the photos), click donate to team (FCCLG) or to a walker (if one of our walkers has registered online). Missions representatives are available after church for the next three weeks to help you sign up or make a contribution!

CHILDREN & YOUTH LEADERSHIP RETREAT/TRAINING
On October 18th at 4pm in the Founders Room, all those who work with our children and youth are invited to our leadership retreat. You can go through boundary training for the first time or renew previous training. In addition there will be fun and games!
 
ALL CHURCH CRAFT FAIR
Crafters:
You may bring your crafts to the church office any time beginning Sunday, October 24. Or bring them to the Founders' Room, Saturday, October 31st, between 11am & 2pm. Please be sure we can identify who made them so we can return any unsold items. Thank you for donating your hand crafted items!
All Church Craft Fair:
Please come to the Founders' Room to shop the Craft Fair on Sunday, November 1st, after church until 3 pm. There will be a wide variety of craft and food items. Invite your friends, neighbors, relatives and classmates.
 
EVENING BOOK CLUB 
We are moving from WWII back in time to WWI. Our next selection is Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend by Susan Orlean.
THis selection is a quintessentially American story of reinvention, a captivating exploration of our spiritual bond with animals, and a stirring meditation on mortality and immortality. Please join us on Thursday, November 5th at 7:30pm in the Chapel conference room.
 
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 as a tangible symbol of G od's love and grace when you are in need of comfort. 
 
GIFTS OF GRATITUDE
Be looking for information about getting your gift of gratitude name in mid November. Because of how the holidays fall, we have to do it earlier this year on Sunday Dec. 6.
 
HOLY JOE'S CAFE
Missions has found a new worthy cause to support called Holy Joe's Cafe.  It is a coffee house ministry for UCC Military Chaplins and Troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. The chaplains invite US service members into a safe and informal place, a "coffee house," where they can receive spiritual care and good coffee.  We have purchased 20# of Equal Exchange Coffee for this mission.  For each pound of coffee purchased, 15 cents is given to the UCC Small Farmer Fund which is used for anti-hunger/economic development programs in eastern North Carolina.  For more information if you would be interested in supporting this cause go to this link

To First Congregational Church families - Did you know that every Saturday morning a trained Kindermusik educator provides children ages 18 months to 3 years a research-based music class specially designed to promote growth in all areas of development, all while dancing, singing, and exploring instruments?  It's true, and you are invited to attend a free class any Saturday!  Just send an email to Joan Arnold at arnfen@aol.com or call (708) 921-0650 - and check us out at Kindermusik.com.
 
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 organ in late October. 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.

Choral Sermon rehearsal
begins on October 22 at 7:30 pm. Ever want to be in an opera chorus? This is your chance! The Advent Choral Sermon will be a staging ofAmahl and the Night Visitors by Menotti. This one act opera is a modern classic and will be performed during 10 am worship on December 20. Please contact Ryan Cox if you would like to sing.

Christmas Musical rehearsal starts on November 7 at 10 am in the choir room. All children K-8 are welcome, including friends and neighbors! For the full rehearsal schedule and registration form, please see Ryan or Sylvia. The performance will be on December 13 during 10 am worship. We would also like to take the show on the road to Plymouth Place for a second performance the same afternoon.
Children in 4th-8th grade are also invited to sing with the Chancel Choir in the Choral Sermon. Amahl and the Night Visitors is a fantastic one-act opera for singers of all ages. Please see Ryan or Sylvia for the rehearsal schedule. The performance will be on December 20 during 10 am worship.
 
Chancel Choir rehearsal continues on Thursday, October 22 at 7:30 pm in the Choir Room.  Membership is open to all singers, high-school on up.  All voice parts are needed, particularly sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses.  Not sure where you fit in?  Ryan will help you figure that out.  All new choir members are offered two free voice coaching sessions with Ryan Cox.  

Carillon Handbell Choir rehearsal continues on Wednesday, October 21 at 7:30 pm. Anyone high-school and up is welcome.  Previous ringing experience is not required, however, basic music reading is helpful (counting is the big thing!).  We need both regular ringers and those who would like to sub in from time to time.

Ring 'n Sing : It's back and it does what the name suggests. We sing. And we ring. Sometimes at the same time. Children in 1st-6th grades are welcome to join the fun. Rehearsals continue on Sundays from 11:15-11:45 am. This program is great for introducing new families to our great youth programming. 
 
Treble Choir : An extension of Ring n' Sing, this ensemble is designed for children in 3rd grade and up. The focus is on voice development, music reading and singing more challenging music. We meet right after Ring n' Sing on Sundays from 11:45 am-12:15 pm in the Choir Room. 
 
CYD News

Yzals 
The Yzals group (grades 6 to 8) will continue to meet at 6:30 pm the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. On October 25th the Yzals will meet at the Bart's home for fun and games and s'mores! We will be meeting there at 3pm.
 
Zackleys 
The Zackleys group (grades 9 to 12) will meet next on October 18 at 6:30 pm. They will continue to meet on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month. However, on November 1, we will meet at the church at 2pm and travel to the forest preserve for a nature walk and conversation!  
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 One: The God We Worship and Serve : Sept. 20 to Oct. 18
            October 18: The Continuing Presence of the Holy  
                              Spirit

Part Two: The Church as the Body of Christ: Nov 1 - Dec 6.
            November 1: Life Together as God's People
            November 8: The Church's Book
               November 15: The Church at Worship
               November 20: Baptism with Water and the Spirit
            November 27: No class (Thanksgiving weekend)
               December 6: 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!

All Church Clean Up and Sale
We are in the process of emptying spaces in the church of "stuff" and "clutter" for which we no longer have a use. Over the next 3 weeks, a team headed up by Jerry Palmer and Gary Melkonian are sorting the wheat from the chaff, and organizing for a rummage sale. They have begun with the space shared with District 105 and School and Tutors of Wheels. They are continuing to sort items in the attic.
Church members will have an opportunity to shop the sale before the general public. All proceeds from the sale will be applied to the General Fund.
 
10/10- 10/18: Figure tentative pricing on sale items. Pricing will be a guideline. Will entertain best offers.
10/18-10/23: Church members will have first dibs on items for sale. Claimed items must be removed from the church by 10/23 or they will be included in sale.
10/24 - 11/3: Arrange items for sale in dining room and mark all prices.
11/4-11/5: Time TBD. Public Sale. Will also entertain best offer
11/9: Needed dumpsters here. Throw away items not sold or offer to Goodwill or other charitable organization.
 
Church Calendar Events 
October 18: Women's Sunday, Live Free Kick Off CROP walk
October 23: Rummage Sale for Congregation Closes
October 24: Chicago Metro Assn UCC Meeting
November 1: Craft Fair
November 3-4: Rummage Sale open to the Public
 
Touch List

Your Cards and Prayers Will Comfort and Touch...
 
 
The Balz family.
Rita Baumann, Mary Cooper's aunt who is recovering from surgery.
The family and friends of Sandra Bland.
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.
Lois Hindman, who is house bound with a brain condition.
The family of Mary Lu, JoAnne Konkle's friend who died on September 17th.
The family of Sherry Llewellyn, who died on September 6th.
Kathleen McConnellogue and Jennifer Powers who are each dealing with health issues.
Camilla Norby.
Helen Pancer, Viola Clayton's daughter who is receiving chemotherapy.
Sandra Sayles , who is recovering at home.