Dear Friends,
 
I greet you all in the name of Jesus Christ, the One who was and is and is to come.
 
I hope you have enjoyed a Happy Thanksgiving.  My prayer for you is that you have found many things to be thankful for this year!  As pastor of Mason Church, I certainly have.  This church continues to bless me as it offers kindness and hope to our community. 
 
As we now move into the Advent and Christmas seasons, I invite you make the season meaningful and bright by taking part in the worship services and other activities we are offering.  For instance, beginning this Sunday, November 27, we are beginning a new sermon series and Sunday school class based on the classic work, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  During the four Sundays of Advent, we will explore the world of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Cratchits, with an eye to the Christian faith.  As we look at Scrooge's ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, we'll be challenged to think about our own pasts, presents, and futures, and we will live with the hope that if Scrooge can be redeemed, there is hope for us all!
 
You are also invited to our free Saturday activities in December.  We start with a St. Nicholas party on December 3 from 10 AM - 3 PM.  We will have St. Nicholas crafts, goodies, a little bit of history, and lovely music.  On December 10, from Noon - 2 PM, we will host a "Night in Bethlehem."  Families will be invited to wander through the bustling town of Bethlehem and see what life was like when Jesus was born.  Everyone will create unique keepsakes as they visit the different shops and will finish off with a visit to a very special stable.
 
We are also hosting two music concerts in December.  The Northwest Repertory Singers presents "A December to Remember" on Saturday, December 17, at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, December 18, at 3:00 PM.  For more information and tickets, visit www.nwrs.org.  On Monday, December 19, at 7:30 PM, the Tacoma Youth Chorus presents their annual "Candlelight Concert."  For more information and tickets, visit www.tacomayouthchorus.org
 
Furthermore, you are invited to join us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship.  On Christmas Eve, we will offer two services -- a traditional service of Lessons and Carols at 7 PM and a more relaxed service at 11 PM.  Both services will feature candles and "Silent Night," while only the 11 PM service will offer communion.  Then on Christmas Day at 10 AM, we will spend an hour together worshiping the Incarnate Jesus.  All three services are sure to bring meaning and beauty to your holiday season.
 
As I said above, there is much to be thankful for at Mason Church.  Below is just a taste of the many things we've accomplished this year:
·   We are on track to pay one hundred percent of our apportionments. 
·   We have begun the process of sprucing up our space as you will notice in the parlor and in the foyer.  We hope to do more soon, but the new paint, furniture reconfiguration, and decorations have already made a significant difference.
·   We have managed several staff changes this year, beginning with our former Youth Director's move to a new position in July.  We hired  two students from the University of Puget Sound, Margo and Olivia, who are now leading youth ministry.  After Jeff Orr's departure in October, we hired a new Music Director, Collin Whitfield, and a new Organist/Accompanist, Ruthann Ritchie.  They both began on November 1 and hit the ground running as we immediately moved into Advent planning. 
·   We used our conference room to create a lovely new children's Sunday school classroom, complete with under the sea decorations and an excellent TV for viewing Sunday school videos. 
·   The adult Sunday school class consistently has 20 - 25 people in attendance (up from an average of 15 last year)! 
·   We have hosted three missionary speakers this fall -- two who serve at Africa University and one who serves in Nepal. 
·   During the spring and summer months, we opened up our building in conjunction with Proctor District Activities, including the Junior Daffodil Parade, the Proctor Arts Fest, and the North End Car Show.
·   Our Halloween party, dinner, and "spooky" organ concert were once again a big success.
·   While we love hosting the FISH Food Bank in Ernst Hall, it has become clear that it would be better if they did not use our kitchen as storage space.  We are, therefore, in the process of moving them out of the kitchen and into another space that will give them plenty of room and give the church better access to our kitchen. 
 
As you can see, there are many things to be excited about at Mason Church!
 
There is one change, however, coming to Mason Church in 2017 that will significantly impact our financial situation.  For six years, The Tacoma Waldorf School has rented space in our Christian Education wing.  The time has come, though, for them to move on.  They have simply outgrown our space and will be leaving at the end of their school year (June 2017).  While we celebrate their success with them, this will leave the church with a significant financial short fall.  (Their current rent is $48,000 per year.)  On the other hand, their departure will free up our space so that it can be used specifically for mission and ministry.  Imagine, for example, if our children's Sunday school program included more than one classroom.  Or imagine being able to offer space for community groups to meet.  Or imagine space for more than one adult Sunday school class.  Or imagine being able to give our senior members comfortable space to gather throughout the week.  The open space will give us all sorts of ways to dream and envision new modes of ministry.  Over the next few months, this is exactly what we will be doing -- dreaming of possibilities.  (If you have a dream, please let me know!)
 
Our dreams, though, will need financial help.  In order to reclaim our space, we will need to buy new furniture and décor.  We will also look at how (and if) we can technologically enhance the space.  Furthermore, we will need to completely redecorate the nursery space, including purchasing furniture and age-appropriate toys.  Our special Christmas offering, then, will go toward creating a fund that will help us to make new ministry happen in the Christian Education wing.  The fund will be used for furniture, decorations, etc., first.  Then any leftover funds will be used to finance the life-changing, spirit-enhancing ministries that will happen in those spaces.  Our goal is to raise $10,000 to fund this exciting transition.  (If you are able to help, you can bring your donation to church during worship or normal business hours, mail it in, or give online at masonchurch.org.)
 
Finally, let me end with a personal word of thanks.  Thank you to this congregation for your support of my family and me.  Thank you for always making us feel welcomed and loved.  Thank you, also, for so gracefully working through the many transitions that have happened over the last year.  And thank you for giving so much of your time, money, energy, and love to support the ministries of Mason Church.  You are making a difference.  You are making disciples of Jesus Christ so that the world might be transformed.  Glory to God! Amen!
 
May the peace of Christ be with you,

Rev. Stephanie Roberts White

Jolly Old St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas Party
Saturday, December 3rd from 10AM to 3 PM

Join us on Saturday, December 3rd to celebrate everything St. Nicholas.  There will be Music, Food, Gifts, and, of course, fun.  If you look sharp, you might catch a certain four Masonites in period costume spreading cheer around the neighborhood as well as inside the church.


The Holidays Just Got a Little Bazaar

United Methodist Women's Mini Bazaar
Sunday, December 4th at 9AM
 
Join the lovely ladies of the UMW this coming Sunday for gifts and treats.  Perfect items for hostess gifts and stocking stuffers.

The Holiday Agenda

Christmas Eve - 7 PM - traditional Lessons and Carols including candlelight and "Silent Night"
 
Christmas Eve - 11 PM - Lessons and Carols including candlelight and "Silent Night" and communion
 
Christmas Day Worship - 10 AM
Blessing of the Gifts! Kids bring your favorite Christmas present for a special Christmas blessing.  ( Please don't bring violent or inappropriate toys, though .)
(no Sunday school or fellowship time)
 
New Year's Day Worship - 10 AM - Covenant Renewal Service:  This Covenant Renewal Service has been celebrated by Wesleyans for over 200 years as a means of beginning the New Year with hearts turned toward God.  Come and reflect on the year past and commit to serving and loving God and others in the year to come. (No Sunday school or fellowship time.)

Don't Forget

UMW Calling Group: Being Advent, the Calling Group will meet/go visiting (a week early) on Tuesday, December 20th (9:30 AM).  They are asking for donations of cookies to package and take to those they visit.  You can bring cookies to the church office during regular office hours (9AM to 2PM M, T, W, & F) starting Dec. 16th.

Why not join the group this month.  Holidays can be particularly lonely for those in retirement and nursing homes.  Share the spirit of the Season by sharing your time and a listening ear.
Youth Events in December

Sunday School: The youth will be following the Redemption of Scrooge curriculum that corresponds to Pastor Stephanie's sermons. 
 
Youth Group: We will be continuing our Spice Rack curriculum on Psalms. The Book of Psalms leads us to examine where our focus as God's children exists. In these lessons, the youth will explore how to see with new eyes, how to find hope in despair, how God takes care of his sheep, and how to have no fear in trusting God in their lives.
  
A Night in Bethlehem: On December 10, from Noon - 2 PM, we will host a "Night in Bethlehem."  Families will be invited to wander through the bustling town of Bethlehem and see what life was like when Jesus was born.  Everyone will create unique keepsakes as they visit the different shops and will finish off with a visit to a very special stable.

Christmas Party: We're hosting a youth Christmas Party on the 18th during regular youth group time (Sunday from 6:30-8:00PM) where there will be a white elephant with a $10-$15 price range. 


The HUGS tree!  
Look for the HUGS tree to return  at the end of November.  Be on the lookout for good deals on  hats, underwear, gloves, and socks for children and adults.  HUGS will be distributed to those in need the week before Christmas.  We are also adding diapers and toilet paper to our list this year.  FISH Food Bank is always in need of toilet paper and diapers, especially diapers sized 5 - 6. 
 
Soap for Hope  
AAA  travel is collecting Soap, Tooth paste/ toothbrushes, shampoo & conditioners, lotion and deodorant, that will be donated to the Salvation Army.  Full sized and travel sized items are acceptable.   We will be collecting items thru December 31st.  (Over the years, AAA has donated 730,000 personal hygiene items to those in need in the Puget Sound area.) 

Did You Know...
the church website contains lots of important and interesting information, including the monthly calendar of events?  Need to know when something is happening?  Click here.

Looking for places to enjoy the Sounds of the Season?  Below are a few events you might enjoy and might even recognize a face or three.

A Celebration of Carols  
at 1st Presbyterian Church of Tacoma (20 Tacoma Ave., South, 253-272-3286), Sunday, December 4, 6 PM, featuring our very own Ruthann Ritchie on harp. 
 
Big Band Christmas
hosted by Mason UMC's Paige Hansen (she also sings), Hali Hill, Melanie V ail and Charlie Stevens on vocals, as well as some great big band selections by The Swing Reunion Orchestra!
Monday, December 5th at 7:30 PM
at the Tacoma Music Playhouse -- 7116 6th Ave. (Tacoma)
Tickets are $25, reserved seating (It sells out every year so don't wait)
Call the theater at 253-565-6867 for tickets
 
Everlasting Light Christmas Concert
at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church (7700 Skansie Ave., Gig Harbor), Saturday, December 10, 7 PM and Sunday, December 11, 1:30 PM, featuring our very own Ruthann Ritchie on harp.

A December to Remember by Norwest Repertory Singers
at Mason United Methodist Church
Saturday, December 17th, 2016, 7:30 pm 
   Pre-concert lecture 6:30-7:00 pm
Sunday, December 18th, 2016, 3:00 pm 
   Pre-concert lecture 2:00-2:30 pm
Two home-grown music ensembles - Tacoma's Geiger Montessori School children's choir and Pacific Lutheran University's Lyric Brass Quintet - join NWRS for a friends and family-focused evening of cherished melodies, including the world premiere of a finale of carols by Kyle Haugen.  AND on December 17th, our very own Rachel Fitzgerald, will be singing a featured duet.

Candlelight Tacoma Youth Chorus Concert
Monday, December 19th at 7:30 PM
at Mason UMC
A Tacoma tradition, Candlelight Concert, performed by the Tacoma Youth Chorus Chorale, Men's Choir, Women's Choir, and Legacy Alum Choir, is a special evening of holiday music, readings, and audience carols.  Tickets sell quickly! 

New Sermon series and Adult Sunday school beginning January 8:  Half Truths

True or false:
1. Everything happens for a reason.
2. God helps those who help themselves.
3. God won't give you more than you can handle.
4. God said it, I believe it, that settles it.
5. Love the sinner, hate the sin. 

All true? Not so fast. We've heard these phrases all of our lives, but in Adam Hamilton's new book, Half Truths, you'll learn that although they capture some element of truth, when compared to the wisdom found in Scripture, they're really just popular sayings.


Updating our Database in January
Rachel (your lovely neighborhood Office Manager) will be in church on January 8th, 15th, and 29th to update the church database.  We have found that a number of addresses are not correct.  Please check in with her on one of those dates to make sure your address is correct in our system.  If you will not be there on any of the aforementioned Sundays, please email admin@masonchurch.org
Thank you!
X X X X X
with family and friends.

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