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February 18, 2016
Touch List

Your Cards and Prayers Will Comfort and Touch...
The Balz family.
Arnie Doerfert, Kim Bart's father, who is undergoing tests.
Kathy Bloom.
Joan Eckner who has continuing health struggles.
Our thoughts are with LuAnn Hall's niece Jessica.
Bert Happel, Jim Happel's brother.
Lois Hindman, who is house bound with a brain condition.
The family and friends of Josephine Welsch, the mother of David Kasnick who died on January 28th.
Petra Palmer's granddaughter's friend Summer who has a possible diagnosis of leukemia.
Helen Pancner, Viola Clayton's daughter, who has continuing health struggles.
Jennifer Powers as she deals with health issues.
Ron Sander, Erik Sander's father, who is in hospice care.
To the family and friends of Jerry Saulinski, our former florist who recently died.
The family of Michael Smith and the residents of Brookfield rocked by gun violence, random and too close to home.
Susan and daughter, dealing with the Zika Virus.
The family and friends of William C. Van Horne Sr., the father of Bill Van Horne, Jr. and grandfather of Catherine Van Horne who died on January 29th.
The family and friends of Pauline Wagoner, who died on January 7th.
Music News

Bail Out Your Music Director!  
Arrrgh!!! On March 11 Ryan Cox will be locked up at the LeaderShop's Pirate Party and needs your help to get out!

Ryan has set a goal of $500, 75% will support the LeaderShop and 25% to our Friends of Music program.

To post bail, and/or buy tickets to the event, go to 
Since 1978 , The LeaderShop has been providing a safe and welcoming environment for elementary through high school aged youth. Programs offered range from mentoring and leadership to performance groups, outreach/volunteer services and special community-based events. Involvement in The LeaderShop changes lives - for the participants and residents of the neighborhoods served. The LeaderShop takes a preventive position in helping today's youth grow into productive leaders in their communities.
Lenten Musical Sermon:  
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's Stabat Mater is one of the m
ost beautiful settings of the text that describes Mary's experience of her son's crucifixion.  Michelle Areyzaga, soprano an d Ryan Belongie, alto, will share their vocal gifts, accompanied by
string quintet and organ, during the 10am worship service on March 6th.  The Chancel Choir will sing Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus and a setting of "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded."  Please spread the word about this wonderful event in the worship life of our church.

The Chancel Choir will do a true "Choral Sermon" on May 22nd - save the date! 
Holy Week Choir:  
Can't quite fit the Chancel Choir into your schedule for a year?  Holy Week is a great time to sing with us.  Rehearsal for Holy Week begins on Thursday, February 25 at 7:30pm. Music for the following services will be rehearsed in the first hour:  Maundy Thursday (March 24), Good Friday (March 25) and Easter (March 27). Please contact Ryan for the full schedule and door code info.
The Saint John Passion by J.S. Bach will be performed on Thursday, March 3 at 7:30pm at St. Luke Church, 1500 W. Belmont, Chicago, Il 60657.
The artists include the Bach Choir of Valparaiso University, the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra, and in a rare, shared performance two soloists named Ryan. Ryan Belongie will be singing the alto arias and Ryan Cox will be singing the role of Jesus.  Tickets are available through the Valpo ticket office at 219-464-5162.  Chancel Choir members - rehearsal is on Wednesday that week, so you can come too!
Lent 2016  Worship Opportunities

Worship in Lent: Sacred Discontent: the Journey toward Redemption and Resurrectio n

Sunday, February 21 - Lent 2 - The Gift of Emptiness - Mark 15: 22-38
Many of us sometime feel empty inside and we fear that there is nothing there of worth. But what if we let go of our obsession with worthiness and released into the idea that if we want to be filled-to find God-getting empty is the best way. God will find us! In our journey this Lent toward the Cross, we know even Jesus felt empty despair... and it was at this moment that God's possibility of life beyond that pain was revealed.
Sunday, February 28 - Lent 3 - The Gift of Being Thunderstruck - Job 37: 1-5
Ancient civilizations and religions all metaphorically describe the voice of the divine coming through thunder and lightning. We often describe experiences of insight as a "sudden flash," "seeing the light" or "rocked my world." Storms of life can make way for moments of insight, like the sun radiating in a clearing in the woods, that can offer us direction, helping us to negotiate life's path and see our unique place in the world. Our Lenten journey of discernment and introspection invites us to open our senses to the be thunder-struck by rays of sunshine that peak through in the midst of the clouds.
Sunday, March 6 - Lent 4 -Choral Sermon 
Sunday, March 13 - Lent 5 - The Gift of Temptation - (Baptism) - Corinthians 5: 16-19, Luke 4:1-13
The gift of temptation may bring images of resisting evil-sometimes in seriously dangerous form or as seemingly benign as the pastry in front of you. But instead, the temptation for this week is following the "shoulds" dictated only by logic, outside expectation or shiny "rewards" instead of following the path our intuition and imagination suggest is right for us-the path that helps us bring the best of our energy and joy to the world. Our Lent journey invites us to face the temptations that erode our fullness and steal us away from our wholeheartedness.

Sunday, March 20 - Lent 5 - Palm/Passion Sunday -(Receiving New Members) - The Gift of Misfits - Luke 19: 29-42a 
As our exploration of the Gifts of the Sacred Discontent begins to come to a close, we look around us to acknowledge the realm and kin-dom of God-the family-that has always and is already right here with us. Sojourners in holy tension do not go it alone but are blessed with the presence of others who help us see, reflect with us and discover together with us the riches of a life lived with intention. As Jesus comes into Jerusalem at the beginning of that fateful week, he is surrounded by those who will live the uncertainty, temptation and emptiness right alongside him.
March 24 -7 p.m. Maundy Thursday - The Gift of Darkness -Readings and hymns of the last supper and the darkest of nights.  
March 25 - 7 p.m. Good Friday - Gift of Disappearing
Days of Sacred Discontent are those times when uncertainty, emptiness, lostness and temptation become companions. No one is immune from these aspects of life. Even Jesus. Indeed, the story of Jesus' final days in this human life is a story of a journey through a dark night of the soul for all those that surrounded him.

[1] Series based on Gifts of the Dark Wood by Eric Elnes.  
Lent 2016: Small Groups

Oases on the Journey toward Redemption
and Resurrection
Refueling and Reimagining Discussions: Sunday 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. in the Drawing Room; repeated, if there is interest, Wednesdays 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. at The Corner Bakery.

Groaning in Labor --Romans 8:22-25 (Sunday Feb 21/Wed Feb 24)
With change come grief and loss, sadness and anxiety. The world carries on around us while we seem stuck in time. Where is God in the midst of this?
Which Path? - Numbers 14:2-9 (Sunday Feb 28/Wed
March 2)
We're faced with lots of choices. How and when do we express trust in confidence in the future when times are tough?
Letting Go and Moving On -- John 12:24, Acts 27:18-20 (Sunday March 6/Wed March 9)
Of what do we let go? Upon what do we cling? What offers hope, and what drowns us? To what path is God leading us?
Seven Last Words -- the traditional Last Words of Christ (Sunday March 13/Wed March 16)
The last words of Christ show us how to say good bye. How do we let go, walk away, and not forget? How do we forgive?
New Wine for New Wineskins - Luke 2:21-22, Hebrews 12:13-16 (Sunday March 20/Wed March 23)
Who are we? What is our purpose? Does that change in more than form and function? Can we reinvent ourselves.
Church News and Reminders

The next Messy Church will be on March 4th at 5:00 p.m. Our theme is New Life In Jesus - Easter Celebration . We hope to see you there!

Evening Book Club will discuss, "Deep Down Dark" by Hector Tobar on Thursday, March 10th.  The story of the Chilean disaster and rescue will keep you on the edge of your seat! Please join us at 7:30 in the chapel conference room. 
Join us as we knit and crochet for charity. Beginners are welcome - we will be glad to give instruction. We meet every Monday except the first Monday of the month in the Family Room off the Chapel at 7pm 

We know it when we've found a place where we feel "at home," where we've made connections and built relationships. And when we've found that "sweet spot" we feel like we belong. In the language of faith, we say we are all part of the body of Christ and individually members of it. We share a common vision and work toward common goals, and it feels quite familiar.

If you have this sense of belonging, come and explore the next step in the life of the congregation: covenanting to grow together in faith and work toward our common goals. This is a way to formalize your affiliation with First Congregational Church.

You're invited to attend two events that will take place in the coming weeks. These are informal and informational gatherings:

Sunday, February 28 - Following worship, a tour of the church building and the ministries of the congregation, then gathering for coffee and snacks in the Drawing Room.

Saturday, March 12 - 3 - 5 p.m. Wine and Cheese at the Parsonage (105 S. La Grange Rd). We'll share our stories, our hopes, our dreams; and we'll explore what "belonging" means.

Then on March 20 in worship, we will covenant with one another in our mutual support.

If you are interested in exploring belonging, please contact Carly and put these dates on your calendar. 
Ministry Opportunities
One Great Hour of Sharing is March 6. This is a special Mission Offering of the United Church of Christ. By making a donation you will help fund the UCC's sustainable development, refugee and disaster ministries. We have all heard about the refugee crisis throughout the world and want to help. So please give on March 6 to One Great Hour of Sharing and help the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Your donation will also aid the disaster ministries which provide services wherever disaster strikes. We can start to make a difference with our donations !

Where: Washington Church, Cincinnati
When: July 5-9, 2016
Mission: Working with at risk children & senior citizens

Required skills:
  • smiles
  • love
  • compassion
Details to follow, see Carly if interested!
The Ministry of Nurture is compiling of list of volunteers willing to be contacted when needed for Memorial Services to assist with hosting and making baked goods. If you are willing to be contacted please sign up in the Founder's Room during coffee hour through the month of February or email Amanda Ries @ This is a great way to minister to families in their time of need.

St. Barbara's food pantry provides much-needed groceries to local families. The next time you're shopping, consider picking up an extra item for the pantry, which is in particular need of the following: peanut butter, jelly, canned pears or peaches, applesauce, and boxes of Jell-O gelatin. Donation baskets are located outside the sanctuary and the chapel. Your donation will be much appreciated! 
Children and Youth News

The Zackleys will be going to Edisto Island for their annual work trip! We will leave on March 26th and return on April 3rd.
Some dates to remember
  • Parent &Participant Meeting: February 21st (6:30 in the Chapel)
  • Stock Sales: February 28th, March 6th, March 13th, March 20th (10:00-Noon, Sanctuary/Founders Room)
  • **Registration Due Date with payment: Sunday,       March 6th
Trip Cost before March 6th: $200
Trip Cost after March 6th: $250
  • Final Participant Meeting: March 13th (Chapel)
  • Work Trip: March 26th (5 am) - April 3rd (late afternoon). Departure and arrival in church parking lot.
  • April 10th: Stockholders' Breakfast, Work Trip Sunday in Worship
The Yzals group (grades 6 to 8) continues to meet the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month at 6:30. 
The Zackleys group (grades 9 to 12) continues to meet on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month at 6:30 pm.