Joanne Norenberg died on Friday, October 27th. No arrangements have been made at this time. If you wish to send a note or card to the family, please send it to Amy Burkhardt (1713 South Stillwood Drive, Leland, NC 28451) and Eric Norenberg (75 Emma Court, Boalsburg, PA 16827).
O God, who heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds; look in tender pity and compassion upon your servants whose joy has been turned into mourning. Leave them not comfortless, but grant that they may be drawn closer to you and one another in their common sorrow. Fill their souls with the light and comfort of your presence. So dwell with them and be their God, until the day breaks and the shadows flee away. Amen.
Pick Up for Pumpkin Rolls!
Please remember to pick up your pumpkin rolls this Sunday, November 12th, after worship. Rolls are $12. Thanks for helping our youth buy Christmas gifts for the Helping Hands drive at OCS!
2023 Advent-Christmastide Devotional: Glow and the "O!" of Wonder
The glow of Advent is a watchfire's embers as a new day begins to dawn.
The glow of Advent is the flush of a pregnant body coursing with 50% more blood than usual.
The glow of Advent is the beauty of dusty shepherd faces reflecting the splendor of a swaddled child.
The glow of Advent is the peace of candlelit faces singing, "O Come, All Ye Faithful."
The glow of Advent is spelled with the "O!" of yearning and, then, with the "O!" of realization as we grasp the season's meaning: everything has changed.
Once again for 2023, the Stillspeaking Writers Group and contributors offer a daily devotional to guide us through the days of Advent and Christmastide, to the celebration of Epiphany. Glow includes:
candle-lighting liturgies for home use,
daily readings with scripture and prayer.
We have several FREE copies of this book on the Welcome Table. Donations are welcomed, but not required.
For those that don't get a hard copy of the book, you are also able to purchase a PDF for $3.00 and/or hardcopy version of the book for $5.00 here. If purchasing the PDF version, please purchase one PDF per reader. Upon purchase, a link will be emailed to you for downloading the PDF.
Are you looking for a place to plug in at First Church? Do you ever wonder what happens at all those committee meetings? Do you just want to visit with your friends over coffee and snacks? If your answer is Yes to any of those questions, come to the First Church Engagement Fair on Sunday, November 19 immediately after worship.
Head to the Fellowship Hall and learn about all the different groups and happenings that go on behind the scenes at First Church. About 18 different groups and committees will showcase how they impact First Church and our Oberlin community. See what is going on in your church home while you feast on goodies!
Do You Enjoy Singing?
We are looking for people who enjoy singing to join the Finney Choir. We meet Thursdays 6:45-8PM, and at 9AM on Sundays before the service. You don’t need to have a lot of experience or read music - there are many friendly people in the choir to help you out! If you just want to come for part of the year, like preparing for Advent or Easter, you’re very welcome to. You can write Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Miranda On Vacation November 20 – November 22
Our Office Manager, Miranda Schaum, is taking some time off November 20 through 22. Please note that during this time:
The office voicemail and emails will be periodically checked. Please call the office and leave a voicemail with your name, number, and what you'd like us to know. Requests for reserving space at the church, submissions for the eNews, and matters that require Miranda's assistance need to be addressed in advance of her vacation.
All submissions for the November 17th and November 24th eNewses need to be sent to the office by 9 AM on Tuesday, November 14th.
Any requests for space at the church for an event occurring between November 18th and November 27th need to be sent into the office by end of the day on Tuesday, November 14th.
Miranda will resume her Office Manager responsibilities after the holidays on Monday, November 27th.
Thank you for your patience and understanding to ensure vacations are as relaxing as possible!
Thanksgiving Day and Native American Heritage Day
In recognition of Thanksgiving Day and Native American Heritage Day, the office will be closed on Thursday, November 23rd and Friday, November 24th. The office will be open again on Monday, November 27th. Happy holidays!
Jan and Rob Thompson Presenting Rev. Doug Long a Gift
On Sunday 29 October 2023 our former pastor Doug Long (1992-1997) retired from the ministry at a worship service at Umstead Park UCC in Raleigh NC, a church that was founded by Doug in 1999. On behalf of First Church as approved by the Executive Council, a plaque made of items from our Meeting House – wood from a retired pew, fabric from an old pew cushion, and a loose slate from the roof – was presented to Doug. On the slate is written a quote from Frederick Buechner, one of Doug’s favorite Christian authors.
An inscription on the back reads: “Slate is a rock metamorphosed from volcanic ash, transformed into a writing surface, a footpath, a roofingmaterial, all for the betterment of life, able to withstand many years of weathering, but ultimately returning to ash. May this slate from the roof of the Meeting House remind you of the firm foundation of the church in your life and ministry, encourage you to keep writing and speaking in your retirement, reflect the paths and adventures that lie ahead, and represent our hope for protection, good health, and happiness through all your days. Thank you for all that you have contributed to the life of our church and denomination. -- With love, members and friends of the First Church in Oberlin UCC.”
Jan and Rob Thompson, who created the plaque and now living near Raleigh, made the presentation to Doug.
Statement from the Pastor re: Conflict in Israel/Palestine
Dear First Church Members and Friends -
The violence and conflict in Israel and Palestine is gut-wrenching. All over traditional and social media, pundits, reporters, self-proclaimed experts, political leaders, and private citizens are attempting to promote their particular interpretations and "spin." As we try to understand recent events it is difficult to know what to do or say.
Oberlin is a multi-faith community that includes significant numbers of Jews and Christians who typically reside peacefully together, yet the topic of Israel/Palestine is often experienced as an "electric third rail" that threatens to damage and destroy long-held and deeply valued relationships. As each of us ponders the decades long conflict between Israel and Palestine let us approach what we think, what we say, and what we do with humility and compassion. At this particular moment, the world does not need more indignation, righteous or otherwise. The world does not need more opinions, whether grounded in careful study or ignorance. The world does not need more weapons or justifications for violence. The world does not need any more "taking sides." The world needs peace. Peace will only come through greater understanding and demonstrated commitment to honoring the worth and well-being of all people.
One place where we can all contribute towards greater peace and understanding is by simply checking in with our neighbors with connections to Israel and Palestine. Ask them how they are doing - and then stop talking and just listen. You don't need to agree with them. You don't need to sort anything out. You don't need to come to a shared understanding. You just need to sit with them and be fully present. Perhaps you can suggest that the conversation conclude with a simple time of silent prayer.
There will be a time for further conversation, to share thoughts, to think about pathways to a lasting peace in the Middle East. For now - in this moment - may we simply demonstrate our willingness to sit peacefully with our neighbors and lament together the loss of so many of God's beloved children as we rededicate ourselves to the cause of peace.
The resources below are offered for your further reflection:
The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) were among 27 Christian churches and agencies to address a letter to members of Congress earlier this week. The letter, in the context of the ongoing war in Israel/Palestine, urged Congress to:
Publicly call for ceasefire, de-escalation and restraint by all sides
Prioritize steps to secure immediate release of hostages and ensure international protection for civilians
Call on all parties to abide by the laws of war, including the Geneva conventions and customary international law
The war in Israel/Palestine that was declared on October 7 has already claimed thousands of lives and tens of thousands of people have been injured. Already, approximately a million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced, still within Gaza as there is no place for them to go. It is increasingly difficult for Gazan Palestinians to find safe space, as even hospitals and a church have sustained damage, killing and injuring hundreds of people. Food, water, fuel, and electricity have been cut off, and supplies are running out.
The United Church of Christ nurtures partnerships in Gaza and Israel/Palestine, including the Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), al-Ahli Arab Hospital of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), the YMCA of East Jerusalem and the YWCA of Palestine They are already responding to the needs of Palestinians and are preparing to address immediate and longer-term response such as food and nutrition needs, physical and psychosocial health care, shelter and rehabilitation, and direct assistance.
As you advocate for a cease fire, access for humanitarian assistance, and for the core issues to be addressed, we invite your financial support to undergird the work of our partners with whom we have had a long-standing relationship. Your gifts will make an impact and a difference on those who are suffering so greatly during these days of lamentation and suffering.
You are invited to a Service of Transition and Installation on Sunday, November 12, 2023.
We will be celebrating the transition of leadership from Interim Pastors the Revs. Kim Keethler Ball and Dr. David Ball to Pastor Cindi Byron-Dixon. We will have a service of prayer and celebration, followed by a small reception. We hope that your clergy or a delegate will attend along with some of your congregation to represent your church, meet Pastor Cindi, and offer support. Cindi is a member of Peace Community Church and is the Chair of the Indigenous Peoples Day Committee of Oberlin. We look forward to her leadership and her continuing Peace Community Church's active participation in the Oberlin religious community.
The service is scheduled for 3:00 pm on Sunday, November 12. More details to follow, including a link to Zoom in to the celebration. Please plan on wearing clergy garb and/or stole if you are clergy. We hope to get a picture of all of us to mark this special occasion!
If you are searching for ways to become more fully engaged in the life of the church, please contact Rev. David T. Hill by calling the church office at (440) 775-1711 or by sending an email to the church office.