Centenary's Weekly Newsletter 
Saturday, December 21, 2019
A Message from Centenary

Dear Centenary Family,

I hope and pray that all of you have a wonderful Christmas.  More than anything, I hope that all of us will find time to pause, reflect and remember what Christmas is all about.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday, Matthew 1:18-25 has helped me do that.  It's Matthew's version of the birth of Jesus.  Matthew focuses the spotlight more on Joseph than Luke does.  I've thought a lot about Joseph's role in this drama.  He's confronted with the awkward, uncomfortable, and undoubtedly painful reality that his betrothed is "with child."  He's well within his rights, according to Jewish law, to have Mary stoned to death.  But an angel appears to him in a dream and he comes to believe that this strange path is precisely the one God is calling him to embrace.

One thing I've thought about is that for Joseph to embrace God's call, he has to unlearn some old ways of reading the Bible.  The book of Deuteronomy is clear about how an adulterous person is to be treated.  Joseph has to let go of his conventional understanding of his faith and consider another way to respond to Mary.  And that is something we're always wrestling with.  Do our old ways of interpreting Scripture hinder God from leading us to some new place of understanding and action?

The other thing that I've been thinking a lot about is that by embracing God's call to stick with his pregnant fiance, against all social convention, Joseph opens himself to receive God's gift of salvation, and to be part of the story of the world's salvation.  You and I are invited during this season to look back at those moments in our lives that seemed awkward, confusing, or disappointing--moments where we've sinned, or when we've experienced some loss or reversal--and ask ourselves where in the midst of those broken roads have we found salvation that we'd not have otherwise found?  

The sermon I've been working on is entitled:  "Christmas Can Be Awkward!"  

I hope you will see the information below about our plans for Christmas Eve, as well as some new opportunities coming our way in January.  There's much more to look forward to than I can share in this brief note.  But I anticipate that 2020 will not only be a year filled with some challenges, but with many opportunities for spiritual growth, fellowship, and service.  

God bless you and yours in this holy season.  It's a privilege to be your pastor and serve God in downtown Richmond and beyond with you.  



This Week at Centenary

Sunday, December 15, 2019
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Worship at 8:40 a.m., Holy Communion
Sunday School, 10:00 a.m.
Worship at 11:00 a.m. 

Dr. Matt Bates will be the preacher for both services.

His sermon is titled Christmas Can Be Awkward!

Tuesday, December 24
Christmas Eve
4 P.M. Worship with Holy Communion for Children and Families
10:30 P.M.  Music for the Season by the 
Centenary Choir
11 P.M.  Christmas Eve Worship

Church Office Holiday Closings

The church office will be closed on Wednesday, December 25 and Thursday, December 26 as well as Wednesday, January 1, and Thursday, January 2.  

Watch for Events and Gatherings for 2020!

Christmas Eve Family Service at 4 P.M.

Everyone is invited to this service which features special music by Lee Covington and our Bell Choir and an activity that is becoming a Centenary tradition.  All families with children, and those looking to celebrate Christmas Eve earlier in the day, are invited to attend and have your younger ones participate in our Nativity procession.  No practice or preparation is required and parents may accompany very young children.  Holy Communion concludes this service.  Please plan to be part of this special Christmas celebration.

Christmas Eve Worship at 11 P.M.

At 10:30 p.m. we invite you to join us for music by the Centenary Choir prior to our 11:00 p.m. traditional service.  The service concludes with Holy Communion.

Fellowship after Both Christmas Eve Services

You are invited to bring light snacks to share as we gather for a brief time of fellowship following both Christmas Eve services.  


Please make your plans now to contribute to our Christmas Eve Offering.  At both services, we will receive an offering to support United Methodist Family Services.  Because of your generosity, UMFS offers help to high-risk children across Virginia.  The offering supports children in foster care, adoptive families, children struggling with mental health challenges, children with autism, and children struggling with emotional, behavioral, or developmental challenges  Your support makes a difference in the life of each child.  Learn more at www. UMFS.org.

Check out this brief video about UMFS: 



Please note, that the Sunday after Christmas, December, we continue what has become a tradition for this Sunday in the church year.  We will have one combined worship service and participate in a Service of Christmas Lessons and Carols.  We will not have Sunday School that day, but will gather at 10 a.m. to sing our favorite carols together!  


Due to many requests, we have ordered an extra case of DARK CHOCOLATE PECANS.  They should be available on 12/15 &12/22 in the Fellowship Hall at $12 per bag.  If you would like to reserve bags, please call Sharon Steele at 912-2549 and leave a message for how many you would like.  There are only 24 in a case!  1st come, 1st served!!  If we get more orders than 24, we could order another case but cannot guarantee they will be here before Christmas!

ALSO, we do have the following still available:  come and get them before they sell out!!:  11 Halves, 6 Cinnamon Glazed and 6 Extra Large Pieces at $12 per bag.  Please Sharon Steele at 912-2549 to reserve or buy them on December 15 or December 22!  Again 1st come, 1st served!  Thanks!

Stewardship Update as of December 20, 2019

Thank you for your response to our Commitment Sunday on November 24.  To date, we have  65 pledges totaling $334,900  toward our goal of pledged and unpledged giving of $367,537 for 2020.   Pledges are welcome any time by mail or by depositing in the offering plate during worship.  


Join us for a study of this book by Mark Achtemeier, The Bible's Yes to Same Sex Marriage:  An Evangelical's Change of Heart
Sessions will be led by Rev. Dr. Pat Shipley and held at 10 A.M. on Sundays, January 12, 19, 26, and February 2 in the Social Hall

More about the Study

In the early 2000's, Mark Achtemeier embarked on a personal journey with the Bible that led him from being a conservative, evangelical opponent of gay rights to an outspoken activist for gay marriage and a fully inclusive church. In  The Bible's Yes to Same- Sex Marriage, Achtemeier shares what led to his change of heart: the problems with excluding groups of people and the insights into the Bible's message that led him to recognize the fullness of God's love and support for LGBT persons. Readers will discover how reading snippets of Scripture out of context has led to false and misleading interpretations of the Bible's message for gay people. Achtemeier shows how a careful reading of the whole Scripture reveals God's good news about love, marriage, and sexuality for gay and straight people alike.

This new edition includes a study guide and a new introduction from the author that reflects on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and changes within the church. Perfect for groups or self-reflection, the study guide directs readers over four sessions to explore both Achtemeier's book and the Bible.

You can purchase your copy from Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

Watch for other opportunities for spiritual growth, service, and fellowship in early January!

Suzanne Ray-- in the recent loss of her uncle
Rev. Kathy Talley-- recovering from recent foot surgery
Betty Brown-- Bill Glaze, Betty's brother-in-law has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
R ev. Pat Shipley-- in the recent loss of two cousins, Bill Groseclose in Pennsylvania  and Mike Justice in North Carolina
Clyde Hundley-- Recovering from open heart surgery
Gavin --friend of Vic and Nancy Grand facing kidney transplant
Ka Cheng --friend of Vicki and Phyllis Stump diagnosed with breast cancer.  
Serena Durst
Joanne Crick Berft- daughter of Phil & AJ Crick, asking for prayer for recent health issues
Bernice Walter- medical issues
Les & Mary Dobbs
William Clyde Hundley- recovering from heart surgery at home
R.B. Bennington- at home
Leah and Bob Hundley
Phyllis Stump
Lucille Hunt- at Morningside at Bellgrade 
Jane Grand- has been moved to a skilled nursing facility and has leveled in her recovery  
Riley Davin- niece of Vic and Nancy
Shannon Conway requests prayer for Charles Sherman, Peter Oxborrow, Leon Beale and Family
Jeff Hatch
A.J. & Phil Crick- at Morningside at Bellgrade
Justin Laman- nephew of Lucy Hottle, a young father who has cancer
The Family of Jenny Bush- friend of Leah Hundley, who recently lost her battle with stage 4 melanoma
Wendy Tisdale- family friend of Agatha and Christina Kidd, diagnose with  staged 4 lung cancer 

Centenary United Methodist Church | (804) 648-8319 | www.centumc.org 
Visit Us: 411 E. Grace St., Richmond, VA 23219