First Church
NEWS 2018
Pastor's Ponderings
Summer Worship & Calendars
Rocket Launching
Calling Summer Musicians
Mission Update
Olde Redding Faire
Report on the Annual Meeting
Stewardship Update
One Great Hour of Sharing
From Your Seminarian
Good Reads
Wanted/Summer at Creative Arts
FCCR Graduates
Thank you FCCR
In our Prayers
Altar Flowers
When Giving is All We Have
Pastor's Ponderings
Dear FCCR Members and Friends,
 
As always, it seems impossible but the summer season is upon us! Even though June has barely begun, the days of fun in the sun and a more leisurely pace are well underway.
 
Many of you are now away on weekends, enjoying your own ‘camp’ or the cape, or other favorite get-aways. It is my hope that you will find in these places great blessings of rest and renewal. There is a great sacredness in our summer practices of vacation and Sabbath.
 
When you are here in Reading, I hope you will take the opportunity to join us in observing Sabbath here at FCCR. We gather in the air-conditioned Chapel during the summer (beginning on June 17), and our worship experience is somewhat more casual and intimate. The music is generally provided by church members and is fun, eclectic and joyful. On the last Sunday of each month, we will have what we call “Let’s Talk” when we engage together in reflection and conversation on topics of the congregation’s choosing. We also enjoy a hymn sing on those days. And the “DIY” (do it yourself) worship is back several weeks in July and August, so those who wish to do so may help lead the service by picking up a part on the way in that morning.
 
Wherever you find yourself on Sundays and other days this summer, it is my prayer that you will carry with you a knowledge of the presence of God and a faith in the sustaining love of God.
 
Many blessings!
Rev. Lisa
Summer Worship at FCCR
June 10 – Worship on the Third Sunday after Pentecost with Renee’s Final Sunday  
Preaching: Seminarian Renee Manning
Music: Handbell Ensemble (final Sunday for program year) & Jill
Nursery Care and Activities in the Sanctuary for Children
Coffee & Fellowship in the Chapel
Noon - Rocket Launch with End of Year Picnic at Memorial Park
 
June 17 – Chapel Worship on Fathers’ Day
Preaching: Rev Lisa
Music: TBD & Jill
Punch on the Patio
 
June 24 – Chapel Worship - Let’s Talk and a Hymn Sing
Reflecting/Facilitating: Rev. Lisa     
Music: Brian Tucker & Gary Rand with Jill Lauterwasser
Punch on the Patio                                       
 
July 1– Chapel Worship with Communion
Preaching: Rev. Lisa
Music: TBD

July 8 – Chapel Worship – ‘DIY’ Style
(Pick up a part on your way in to worship!)
Preaching: Rev. Lisa
Music: TBD (Jill on vacation)
Punch on the Patio                                             
July 15 – Chapel Worship
Guest Preaching: tba
Music: TBD (Jill & Rev. Lisa on vacation)
Punch on the Patio                              

July 22 – Chapel Worship
Guest Preaching: TBA (Rev. Lisa vacation)
Music: TBD & Jill
Punch on the Patio                                    
 
July 29 – Chapel Worship -
Let’s Talk and a Hymn Sing
Reflecting/Facilitating: Rev. Lisa
Music: Jill
Punch on the Patio
 
August 5 – Chapel Worship with Communion
Preaching: Rev. Lisa
Music: TBD & Jill
Punch on the Patio
 
August 12 – Chapel Worship – ‘DIY’ Style
(Pick up a part on your way in to worship!)
Preaching: Rev. Lisa
Music: TBD & Jill
Punch on the Patio


FCCR Summer Calendars

Rocket Launching This Sunday June 10th
This Sunday, June 10th, from 12:00pm to 1:30 pm, we will meet at Memorial Park for a picnic and launching. (Please bring your own lunch, including drinks!) While we eat and enjoy each others company, we will launch our rockets (one at a time). They will soar 400 feet into the heavens in 2 seconds. It's a whole new way to lift our hearts to God!
Come and enjoy! Great God, great community...great time!
Your Seminarian & space/rocket fanatic! Renee
Calling all Summer Music Volunteers!

This is the time of the year when we ask for volunteers to offer music during our summer worship services starting on June 17 through September 9. Our summer services are casual and in the Chapel and its a great time to try out some music. Offer a solo, or get together with some friends and offer a group number - whatever your pleasure, we'd love to have you. Singing, instrument, both! Need help choosing music, we'll be glad to help you. The sign up sheet is found in the Choir Room on the end of the Robe Closet - or email Chad with some dates you have in mind and we'll sign you up. Thank you so much for your help. Sincerely, Rev. Chad W. Kidd, Minister of Music ( ckidd@bu.edu )
Mission Update: Save these dates!
 
On Sunday July 22 , the Mission and Social Action Ministry will provide a picnic dinner to the residents of the Emmaus House family shelter in Haverhill. The regular staff will be busy off-site helping with the Cycle for Shelter ride. We will provide a ham, potato salad, coleslaw, watermelon, and drinks, but we will need baked goodies.
 
On Sunday August 26 , members and friends of the Mission Ministry will travel to Boston Common to bring Christian fellowship and lunch to the homeless who attend the Common Cathedral. If you are willing to make some sandwiches or cookie-type desserts, or if you want to join the group going down, mark your calendar now.
Olde Redding Faire!
Mark your calendars for Friday, September 28th and Saturday, September 29th for our annual Reading Faire. Preparation has already started - a group of half dozen volunteers has already begun to plan (with room for more). We are looking for suggestions for summer projects - a craft to sell, items to grow, ideas welcome. Contact Betsy Schneider or Linda Ananian for more.
Keep Calm and Carry On...
The FCCR Annual Meeting was held on May 20 – with close to 70 members attending.  The Congregation:
·        elected a slate of officers for the next program year
·        approved endowment withdrawals
·        voted to move senior pastor housing-related endowment funds from
restricted to unrestricted.  
·         approved an annual budget that retains all staffing positions – including music
– at their current  levels for the coming year.
 
The Budget
The congregation reviewed and discussed three different budget models. We specifically selected a deficit budget over two other options (that would have reduced the deficit and reduced staff positions and/or hours). By voting to continue our current staffing model – with no changes– we voted to continue our budget “as-is” and “stay calm and carry on”. 
 
What is “As-Is”?
When the congregation selected an “as-is” budget, did it mean “run out the clock” – continue exactly as we are? Or does it provide us another opportunity – with a complete staff – to respond to the information we have collected about what the congregation finds most important. Or are there other thoughts about how to extend the life of the church?  As a congregation we need to identify a path to move forward.
 
Next Steps
The hard work now begins. We have a five-year window to develop a plan that supports a church without a significant endowment. We need to look at multiple aspects of our church - increasing income (building use, pledges, increasing endowment, etc.) and decreasing expenses.
 
Members have indicated that they are willing to participate more and take more active positions. How do we capture that? How do we make it clear that each of us can implement ideas and programs? 
 
Now we are looking for signups on the white board for the weekly supporting duties of worship.  We have opportunities for additional deacons, a church historian, stewardship team, learning team.
 
At the series of congregational meetings, we used the  parking lot  (a large white sheet) to collect ideas that we can address later.  Some of the ideas included community dinners, fundraisers, researching grants, open mic night.  What would you like to add to the parking lot and what would you be willing to work on? We have a parking lot sheet in the office for your review and continued use.
  
Speak to the deacons or any member of church leadership and share your feelings.  This is an important year in the church as we carry on.
 
Linda Ananian for the budget team
Doves Rule!
The saying may be “fly like an eagle” but this year at FCCR, doves rule – which is to say our stewardship campaign has been well received. We thank those of you who have already indicated your willingness to support God’s work and outreach in the world, and hope that those of you who have not, will yet consider doing so. Your gift, of even one or two dollars a week, is an indication of your faith in this community and its intention to walk humbly with God and to love our neighbors. Please join us with an indication of your commitment to this church.

As of the first weekend in June we have received 75 pledges out of the 104 requests that were initially sent out. That friends, is a 72 percent response rate! And to date, the total pledged this year outpaces last year’s pledges by over $10,000. We are not done yet, and look forward to increasing these numbers even more.

Thank you, thank you, for your care, love and support of FCCR. ~The Stewardship Team
THANKS for supporting “ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING”
 
Our church has contributed $361 so far to One Great Hour of Sharing. OGHS is the special annual mission offering of the United Church of Christ that carries God's message of love and hope to people in more than 80 countries.
 
OGHS funds allows the UCC to represent YOU in places where help is needed, both at home and abroad. These efforts are most visible in times of disaster, such as the current floods in the Midwest and South. However, the UCC also works year round with local organizations, to alleviate systemic poverty, and to aid refugees and immigrants to the United States. Thank you for your generosity!
To my FCCR church family,
Our journey together has come to an end, and what a journey it has been. This is my swan song newsletter article. What more can I say than…THANK-YOU! You have been an amazing teaching parish.

I have truly enjoyed the learning path I have been on with you. I am humbled by all that I have learned in the last two years. You have been patient through all my mistakes, and overwhelmingly supportive of every goal and initiative I have tried to achieve. Congregants have told me that you have learned and been taught by me. For this I am extremely proud.

But, whatever I have contributed pales in comparison to that which you have taught me. I have matured in my ministry and in my ability to minister. I could not have asked for a stronger base to learn from than this congregation and from Rev. Lisa. Again, I can’t express what a mentor Rev. Lisa has been for me.

LOL, I think I have ruffled her foundation once in a while and in these moments, we have had great times. I thank her for her patience and understanding.

Leaving you is truly bittersweet. The joy is that this means my “call from God” is moving forward. The long road to ordination is a little shorter. (As I formulate my plans, this could happen any time from 2020 on)

Sadly, the bitter is leaving a congregation of people that “I know by name!” You are all so special to me in so many ways.

I leave you with your journey. I pray that you each look to God when facing those tough decisions that crop up more often than expected. I pray that you continue to grow in faith. I have expressed more than once my strong faith in Jesus/God as my savoir. My faith has kept me strong in my darkest moments and has given my incredible joy beyond words. I could not be more- happy than I have been in these last few years. I will pray for this congregation always. Pray for me too.
There is a big bright beautiful world out there. We are its stewards and we are the caretakers of our fellow sisters and brothers. We must not forget this. Sometimes helping in this regard may take us out of our comfort zones. I believe this is what we have been called to do – where and when and however we can.

So much to do and so very exciting times to do it! May our respective journeys be pleasing for our Creator. I hope to be back from time to time to worship with you.

Thank –you to each and every one of you from the very core of my heart.
Your Seminarian, Renee
Good Reads for June - Excerpts and Links
FIRST LOOK: Inside the historic church set to become Ypsi's newest performance venue
 
From the moment Maggie Brandt and Steve Pierce stepped foot inside First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Ypsilanti, they knew they wanted to repurpose the 130-year-old building as a new kind of community space.
 
 
Kara Faris: 'Divergent churches' are exploring innovative ways of congregational life
Dinner churches, cowboy churches, farm-to-table gatherings and much, much more. Across the United States, new and alternative ways of congregational life are emerging.
 
 
Dave Odom: Remembering Loren Mead and his love for congregations
 
It is a bit difficult to imagine now, but Loren led a 40-year crusade to influence the church to recognize the significance of congregations. When he started Project Test Pattern, the research project for the Episcopal Church that preceded Alban’s founding, most religious leaders had an instrumental view of congregations. They believed that these local units exist to support the important work of denominations. Because of Loren’s widespread influence, many denominations have flipped the script and now see their work as supporting the vitality of congregations.
 
Creative Arts This Summer

For your children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends - right here at FCCR, Creative Arts offers a wonderful array of summer classes, theatre, music and art programs!
Click HERE or on the image to view their summer offerings.
Celebrating Our FCCR Graduates!

High School Graduates
Emily Cain, Aiden Connor, Alec Gibbs, Chris Rogers & Jillian Shimansky
 
College Graduates
Kaylee Redard and Nathan Rose
Rev. Dr. Anastasia E.B. Kidd - Doctorate from BU School of Theology
Renee Manning - M. Div. from Andover Newton Theological School

If you have a grad in your family, please let us know and we will include them in a future listing!
Thank You FCCR
Dear Church friends, 
Thank you so much for the cards, altar flowers, pot of Easter tulips, visits and meals that have been so generously delivered after my ankle break and resultant surgeries. 
I still have a way to go but the news seems more positive lately. I hope to be on my feet unaided by mid to late summer after some serious physical therapy. Prayerful thoughts and deeds from friends mean so much! Thank you all,

Sincerely,
Elaine Bachelder

Dear Church Friends, 
Thank you for the altar flowers, my visit from Joann, and the many cards we received. Your thoughtfulness and prayers are helpful during this sorrowful time. 
Sincerely, 
Marilyn and Dennis Hossman