A Spirituality Crisis

According to most reports, the church as we have known it is now on the endangered species list.  While faith in God remains high, faith in church has been on a steady decline. There is a feeling among many Christians that worship in the church lacks adequate inspiration and spirituality. Among the complaints: the church ritual is done by rote; the words we say are too long or we are too slow; the service is not understood by participants; the people talk too much in church; the services do not involve everyone in a meaningful way…There are “solutions” of course that have been offered over the years, along with why they have not achieved full success:  Introduce more contemporary melodies …these may be more lively and inspirational than the traditional church music. Yes, for some people, singing such melodies is emotionally satisfying. But for many others, such music seems more like a concert than a vehicle for addressing God.  Introduce spiritual practices …some find this helpful and many others may find these practices an outside imposition on Christian worship and may be repelled by this mode of spirituality.   Make the services more egalitarian …Yes, for some people this seems like a way of getting men and women more involved. Yet, the Reform movment have been fully egalitarian for many years- without any perceptible improvement in the overall spiritual life of their communities. While 1001 new worshipping communities are popping up in our PCUSA world, it remains to be seen whether this represents a new way of worshipping or will fall into the same patterns that have taken hold in other services. Whatever suggestions are offered, one can come up with counterarguments.  Each individual and each community has different needs and expectations. 

It seems that the “ crisis of the church ” needs to be viewed in a broader context. The church is only one factor. The real problem seems to be us “moderns” are losing our sense of intimacy with God. God is simply not a real presence in many of our lives. If that is the case making changes in the church service will not restore that intimacy. Whatever gimmicks we introduce, while possibly helpful to some, will fail, because they focus on symptoms rather than on the malady itself.  To Christians who feel God’s presence in daily life, the church service poses very little problem. The church is just one of many context in which one experiences the Divine. It’s not the center of religious life, and certainly not the only place to feel God’s presence One follows the church ritual out of loyalty to tradition, out of solidarity with generations of Christians who have prayed in this manner, out of a spiritual quest to be part of the community’s prayers to the Almighty. But one also says prayers any time of the day, in almost any place.

If we have a personal spirituality we can bring this into our public spirituality. If we can maintain or regain a living relationship with God in our daily lives, then our church experience becomes deeper. Surely, a church needs to do its best to help congregants re-establish intimacy with God; and it needs to conduct its services in a manner that is conducive to spiritual experience and development. But it also needs to realize that it’s an enabler of spirituality, not a substitute for spirituality.  God doesn’t dwell only in the church. God dwells everywhere.   Most of our lives are not spent in the church, and most of our lives are deeply in need of relationship with the Almighty. If we can develop a full spiritual personality, we will find the church experience to be a meaningful and vital aspect of our lives. How do we become more sensitive to our souls, to our personal relationships with God? We need to imbue our daily lives with sacred experiences and spiritual practices in such a way that these activities resonate within us, and raise our spirits. Religion is not an easy way to God, and it’s not a short cut to spirituality. If we want our churches to be more spiritual, we have to be more spiritual ourselves. If we want our churches to be spiritually alive, then we first have to be sure that we are spiritually alive.
Peace,
Rev. Sheri Fry
One Great Hour of Sharing

One Great Hour of Sharing is the single largest way that Presbyterians join together to share God’s love with our neighbors-in-need around the world. Each gift helps to improve the lives of people in challenging situations through three impactful programs.   Presbyterian Disaster Assistance works alongside communities as they recover and find hope after the devastation of natuarl or human-caused disasters.  Presbyterian Hunger Program takes action to alleviate hunger and the systemic causes of poverty so all may be fed and Self-Development of People invests in communities responding to their experiences of racism, oppression, poverty and injustice and educates Presbyterians about the impact of these social skills. We invite you to join with other Presbyterians worldwide in answering God’s call and donating to OGHS.
HOLY WEEK SERVICES
Holy Week services are an attempt to recall through Scripture, music, sacrament, prayer, and light, the entire week's events. We are happy to offer a variety of experiences to inspire worshipers to understand the events leading up to and following Jesus' crucifixion and Resurrection.
  
Palm Sunday            
Sunday, April 14  9:00 & 10:30 a.m.
We hope children & adults will join us on the journey around the church and down the aisle as we joyfully raise our palms in worship.  The choir following the 10:30 worship service will host a Palm Sunday brunch.
  
Matins (morning prayer) Service   - This is a 30 min. service in the Chapel
Monday, April 15       7:00 a.m. 
 
Matins Service                 
Tuesday, April 16       7:00 a.m.
 
Matins Service                                 
Wednesday, April 17     7:00 a.m.
 
Maundy (Mandatum ‘commandment’) Thursday, April 18 7:00 pm  
Communion and Stripping of the Church Service    

Tenebrae Good Friday Service            Friday, April 19              7:00 pm
The Tenebrae (service of Shadows) is ancient Christian service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles and the reading of scripture to symbolize the events of that week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus' burial. 
 
Easter Sunday Sunday, April 21, Two Easter Services 9:00 & 10:30 am
Easter Breakfast 8:00-9:15am   
Palm Sunday Brunch

The Chancel Choir invites one and all to their Annual Palm Sunday Brunch following the 10:30 am Service in Fellowship Hall, April 14th. If you have attended in the past, you know what great food these singers create! There will be an array of yummy brunch items and the usual beverages! We will be asking a free will offering towards the choir's trip to sing in the DCINYC Concert Series, for the World Premiere of Joseph Martins cantata, Christmas Dreams in Carnegie Hall, November 17, 2019. We look forward to seeing and feeding you with food and the spirit of this season!
Easter Breakfast

On Sunday, April 21st, between 8:00 and 10:15 am, there will be an Easter Breakfast in Fellowship Hall for members, friends and college students. A free will offering will be received. Pete and Joanne Lindahl coordinate this event and will need help in the following areas. Please let the church office know what you would be willing to help with. Thank You!
                                             
NEEDED:
1.         Men to cook, work in kitchen and serve breakfast.

2.         People to help clean and reset tables as needed and refill beverages.

3.         People to clean up after the meal.
EQUAL EXCHANGE

If you are in need of product from Equal Exchange, Lorinda O'Hashi will be ordering in the next week. Please E-mail,  LorindaO@aol.com  or leave a message in the Church Office of your needs. Thanks!
CARNEGIE HALL, NEW YORK CITY
NOVEMBER 14-18, 2019
 
THE UPC CHOIR HAS BEEN INVITED TO SING IN THE NEW YORK PREMIER PERFORMANCE OF JOSEPH MARTIN’S AND HEATHER SORENSON’S CHRISTMAS DREAMS AT CARNEGIE HALL ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2019. YOU WILL JOIN OTHER CHORISTERS TO FORM THE DISTINGUISHD CINCERT SINGERS INTERNATIONAL AND CONDUCTOR AND COMPOSER JOSEPH MARTIN WILL LEAD THE PERFORMANCE. THERE ARE A FEW SPOTS STILL OPEN. CONSIDER COMING TO NYC TO HEAR THE PERFORMANCE EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT A CHORISTER.  PLEASE SEE LORINDA O’HASHI FOR THE DETAILS OF THE TRIP.
April Care Cart: The Laramie Soup Kitchen

In its 36 th  year of operations, an average of 90 people receive a nutritious meal at no cost in a friendly, accepting, and safe environment Monday through Friday. Guests are also provided with information on existing community resources and the Salvation Army is provided with space on Tuesdays for their utility assistance program. The Soup Kitchen also provides an invaluable opportunity for their guests as many of them are socially isolated. According to data provided by the Soup Kitchen, 25.5% or 1 in 4 people in Albany County live below the poverty level (the national average is 15.5%) and in 2017, 12.7% of all households in Wyoming were food insecure. The Soup Kitchen is seeking donations of the following items:
Kid Friendly: fruit cups, applesauce cups, granola bars and individually packets of Goldfish Crackers
Kitchen Supplies: Dawn Dish Detergent, quart-size Ziploc Storage Bags, Green Scrub Pads, bleach
Beverages: individually wrapped tea bags, coffee, creamer, drink mixes, powdered milk, hot chocolate packets, hot spiced cider packets
Cooking Basics: spices (dill, rosemary, ground ginger, nutmeg, thyme, tarragon, chili powder), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cooking spray, Canola Oil, Olive Oil, cider vinegar
Condiments: Mayonnaise, salsa, soy sauce, hot sauce, ketchup packets, mustard packets, pickles, relishes, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, country gravy mix, green chilies
Foods: jelly/jam, Nutella, honey, canned fruit, canned vegetables (except corn and green beans), instant pudding, Jell-O, diced tomatoes, pasta, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, canned beans, canned tuna, canned chicken, brownie mixes, cookie mixes, taco chips
Mary Martha Circle

We will meet Wednesday, April 17th at the home at Janice Shuster's home, 530 Beaufort #119 .    We will continue our study, God’s Promise, I Am With You by Amy Poling Sutherlum.  Mary Petrick  will  lead us in Lesson 8 of tracing God’s promise of “I will be with you”.  Janice Bierman  is our co-hostess.   All women are invited to join us for prayer, study and fellowship.  Please let either Lois 742-3130,  irving.ll2u@yahoo.com  or Janice B. 742-9165, know if you are planning on attending.  We hope you will join us.
Rebekah Circle

We will meet on Thursday, April 25th at 10:00am at Linda Sheets home. Her address is 5120 Prairie Dr. We will have a group discussion on chapters 11, 12, 13 & 14 in the book "Boundaries". Please join us for food, fun & fellowship. Hope to see you all there.
Christian Education

The Christian Education Committee is looking to new members to help with educational opportunities for all ages at UPC. Please contact Michelle Harris or Kim Buchanan for information and ways to help. Here is a way to be involved; UPC will hold Vacation Bible School June 17 th -21 st . We are looking for adult and youth helpers to spend the week with the children in various roles.
Vacation Bible School
 
UPC will host ROAR! – Life is wild – God is Good Vacation Bible School June 17-21. On line sign up is available on UPC’s web page. 
All children 5-10 are invited to join the safari adventure!
Family Promise Update

The current family enrolled in the program has received an apartment from the Cheyenne Housing Authority. They are planning to move into their new home this week. Congratulations to the family!
The host site for the week of April 8 is Laramie Christian Center & Emmaus Road and for the week of April 15 Calvary Laramie will be hosting.
Volunteer hours for 2019: 1,672
Bed nights 2019: 524

Upcoming Fundraisers Benefiting Family Promise
Ridley's - If you shop at Ridley's please Donate your points to Family Promise. To do this you check in at the Ridley Store and let them know you would like this to happen.
June 2 - Pancake Breakfast
Please purchase tickets from the office.
May 10 - Pop-up Art Museum and Cardboard. Box City.
Church Contact Info

To contact the church staff click on a name below.

Rev. Sheri Fry     Rev. Sheri Fry

Clerk of Session    Carole Hertz

Church Office or 
Nikki Rogers      Nikki Rogers

Children's 
Ministry          Michelle Harris

Music 
Ministry           Lorinda O'Hashi
OFFICE HOURS
Th e church office will be open Monday-Friday 8:00-3:00. Pastor Sheri will be in the church Monday-Thursday 9:30-4:30 on a regular basis.



Reports & Session Minutes
T he UPC Session Minutes and reports can be read at our website at  upclaramie.org/minutes/
Calendar of Events at UPC

For a full calendar of events click on the calendar link.
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