Pastor Connection
September 17, 2020
A New Community Book Study
As we have watched the ongoing call for racial justice in our nation, many among us have wondered "What can I do? How can I help?" We don't always have a clear path forward in tackling the large systemic problems that continue to hurt our communities. However, one step is always important in moving forward: educating ourselves.

This October, our church will be participating in the Cedar Valley Community Book Read of How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. Lots of churches and other groups will be reading the book this month, including the Cedar Valley Interfaith Council, UNI, and several different community leaders. We will be learning from the author and from each other. Please click HERE to watch a short video invitation from Laura Hoy on behalf of the planning committee.

Dismantling racism is a priority and will not happen without ongoing intention, prioritization, and strategic focus.  A collective reading of How to be an Antiracist can help our community by:
*creating shared vocabulary and definitions around race, racism, and antiracism.
*growing understanding through the reading and by listening to our Cedar Valley neighbors.
*building new and stronger connections with Cedar Valley neighbors. 
*forging a collective sense of urgency and value to work together as antiracists toward the vision of a more just community. 
*providing a launching pad for further discussion and strategic action.

In partnership with this effort, our church will hold its own 5 week study of the book on Mondays, every week at 12:00-12:45 starting October 5 through November 2. We will share our thoughts about the book and discuss our impressions of a weekly panel held by local community leaders who are also reading the book. This panel will include educational leaders, law enforcement leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, and government/political leaders. Pastor Amy will lead us in these discussions. If the Monday time doesn't work for you, there will be another opportunity offered on Thursday night in partnership with First Baptist Waterloo from 6:30-7:30.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Pastor Pat to sign up by September 27. We are asking that participants purchase their own books through their favored book provider. It is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. If purchasing a book is a hindrance, please let Pastor Pat know. The church can help with ordering or funds for purchases.

We hope that you prayerfully consider joining us.
Supporting Presbyterian Mission Co-Workers
The Mission and Outreach Team is excited to report that we are providing financial support to 2 Presbyterian mission co-worker couples this year. Each couple received $1500. This is the first of a two part report on the couples.

The first couple is Jim and Jodi McGill, who have been in mission service in Africa since 1995.

Jim serves with the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN) and the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) to ensure sustainability for clean water and sanitation at both community and family levels. Niger and South Sudan are in north central Africa. Jim works with the church in being a strong participant in the rural development of the countries and an effective advocate for the health of the people. Jodi serves with the EERN in its efforts to create and staff church-run health clinics and to train students in its new nursing school. She also works in the EERN health clinic on a regular basis.

Niger is one of the Africa’s most economically impoverished countries and is at the bottom of the UN’s human development index. Niger has the highest fertility and population growth rates in the world. Fewer than 50 percent of children are enrolled in school, and its annual per capita gross domestic product is only about $800. Farming is limited by frequent droughts, and the country’s vast desert regions are growing because arable land is falling victim to droughts, excessive cultivation, overgrazing and deforestation. The Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN) is the largest Protestant church in this Muslim country. In recent decades, the EERN and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began working as partners in mission.

South Sudan became independent of the country of Sudan, by vote of the people, in 2011. But decades of civil war before and after that date has resulted in major destruction to infrastructure and widespread famine. Three million people have been displaced. Fortunately, the region is home to abundant natural resources and many faithful people. The PC(USA) is working with its church and ecumenical partners to help South Sudan maximize the promise of independence and improve the plight of the people.

If you would like to learn more about the work that Jim and Jodi are doing, you will find their letters posted at their website. Click HERE.
Peace and Global Witness Offering
The Peace and Global Witness Offering is one of the 4 Presbyterian special offerings we collect every year. A gift to this offering enables the church to promote the Peace of Christ by addressing systems of conflict and injustice across the world.

Individual congregations are encouraged to utilize 25% of the offering to connect with the global witness of Christ's peace. This year, we will designate our portion of the offering to the House of Hope in Waterloo, which serves the needs of female head-of-household families. It is no surprise that Covid-19 has created a whole new layer of problems for the women to cope
with, particularly more stress and a sense of isolation. Some of the women at the House have lost jobs or hours. While others (such as employed by Friendship Village) are considered front line providers. Fortunately no House residents, staff, or volunteers have contracted the virus.

On another positive note, the House has several new programs started this year:
• Covid-19 Rent Assistance Program. For single women with at least 1 child, who are not residents of the House.
• Financial Mentoring Program. 4 week 1:1 program focused on credit review, goal setting, and money management.
• Family Support and Wellness Program. 4 week 1:1 program focused on coping skills, crisis intervention, family skills, mental and emotional health (including the kids), picking a primary care physician and immunizations.
• Outreach. Reaches out to women on the House’s long waiting list and helps them connect with community resources and work on issues to stabilize their situation, while waiting for an opening at the House.

Covid-19 has also had an adverse impact on fundraising at the House, and our financial support is definitely needed. We hope you will be able to contribute to the Peace and Global Witness Offering and our support of the House of Hope.

This year, we will be accepting the offering between now and Sunday, October 4. There will be no special envelope. Please mark your donation as “Peace Offering”.
Spiritual Practices for the Week
Lament Writer Amy Petersen suggests that children and adults alike can find meaning in poetry during this time in our lives where the changes we are having to make due to the Covid19 virus bring us to lament. Petersen highlights verses from the book of Lamentations and provides directions to write your own “acrostic of grief”.  Click HERE for more info. 

Rhythm of Nature, Rhythm of Life As we move into the season of Autumn, Henri Nouwen calls our attention to the “Rhythm of Nature.” In his meditation he writes of Autumn “as a time of plenitude, a time of fulfillment in which the richness of nature becomes abundantly visible, but also a time in which nature points beyond itself by the fragility of its passing beauty.” Read the meditation HERE. Make a practice this week to pay attention to the changes around you each day.. What do you see from your window, your walk, your drive?  How does it speak to you?
Changes in Staff
We still have not hired a new office manager for the church. The personnel team and Pastor Amy are still taking applications for candidates and discerning the church's needs at this particular time.

Kelley Galyen has been covering our financial responsibilities on the weekend during our personnel search. However, it is time for Kelley to focus exclusively on her new role as teacher in Waterloo schools.

As we continue to search for someone to fill the office manager position, we have hired Dee Jordan to handle the financial responsibilities of church operations in an interim position. Dee is a chef for Sunday Supper, member at Westminster Presbyterian, and works in the office at Westminster. Dee has a wealth of experience with financial operations and we are grateful that she will be lending a hand.

Dee will begin on Monday, September 21. She plans to work in the office on Monday afternoons for 2-4 hours per week. Pastor Amy and Pastor Pat will still be covering the regular office hours and office needs beyond church financial responsibilities.

We thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue in this interim time in the life of the staff.
Staff on Leave
Office Hours
Pastor Amy will be on leave NEXT WEEK, September 21-27. Pastor Pat will be on call for pastoral care needs.
Remember that our church office hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 - 2:00. Pastor Amy and Pat will be covering the office duties as they are able until a new office manager is hired. Please call before coming to ensure someone is in the building.
Zoom Bible Study
We will meet again this Tuesday at 9:00 via zoom to discuss the upcoming sermon text. Next week's passage is Matthew 21:23-32. Pastor Amy will be following the Revised Common Lectionary until Advent.
Online Giving Available
Thank you to all those who are continuing to faithfully give their pledges and offerings to the church. In an attempt to make giving easier during this time, we have initiated online giving to our church through the Presbyterian Foundation. Click on the button below to set up on account for continual giving. You may also give a one time gift. You may also continue to mail checks to the church. Please call Kelley if you have questions.

We are still engaging in meaningful ministry and your offerings make that ministry possible. Thank you for your generosity and please continue to give as you can.
In Our Thoughts and Prayers
For specific individuals:
Mary K Williams is at home and recovering well; Richard Platt at he recovers from surgery at home; Tim and Kyle, Anne Sage's son and grandson, who experienced damage to their farm due to storms; Barbara Benskin's daughter, Rochelle, and her husband have been diagnosed with Covid and they are concerned about underlying health issues; Steve Miller, home; Gerald Buls, who has been diagnosed with lymph node cancer; prayers of safety for Lorraine Baker's nephew and Barbara Benksin's son, who are both truckers; Kason (Connie Leeper's daughter-in-law's nephew, recovering from a car accident; Bob Cutsforth, who is undergoing cancer treatment; The Platts' friends in Venezuela who are struggling with food and other resources; Joe Fernau (Marie's son), who finished treatments for lymphoma; Sarah (granddaughter of Evelyn and Carl Boice) who is an RN at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester MN, and her husband, Dylan, who is an essential non-medical worker at Mayo; Megan and Emma Schellhorn as they work at Fareway; Jan and Dean Bellinger's daughters and granddaughters who are serving in hospitals and nursing care facilities; for Alexa (granddaughter of Janis Shea) who works in an essential business credit union and is subjected to the virus; Courtney Pilcher who works in health care services; Neva Kerr, NewAldaya (Hospice); Crystal Lorenze, recovering from back surgery; Paul Holtz, Hospice Care

Broader prayer concerns from the congregation:
All those affected by wildfires
All those affected by storms and hurricanes
that justice and lasting peace will come to our nation
leaders in all areas who are making decisions for people's well-being
all those living and working in nursing homes, assisted living, and retirement communities
workers at Tyson's
that all will stay well
all doctors, nurses, and health care providers along with their families
all those who are essential workers
those who are strictly quarantined for a variety of reasons

Add to the Prayer List
Click HERE to submit a prayer request online. Our pastors will be praying for you and sharing concerns with the congregation as requested.
Happy Birthday!
17 Joseph Swallow, Ruthie Wiles
18 Jean Seeland
19 Paige Bass
24 Craig Cose

First Presbyterian Church | Waterloo, IA | 319-233-6145 |