Straight to the Point
August 11, 2020
Weekly Reflection

But Jesus,
who in this vision informed me
of all that is needed by me,
answered with these words and said:

"It was necessary that there should be sin;
but all shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well."

These words were said most tenderly,
showing no manner of blame to me
nor to any who shall be saved.
-- Julian of Norwich (1343-1416)



Farewell Letter

Good People of FCUCC:

I was blessed to be invited to preach at FCUCC during Lent of 2019. I celebrated Easter with you, and then came on board as the part-time Interim Pastor that summer. This Sunday will be my final Sunday as your Interim Pastor (my Interim contract ends on August 15th).

Looking back at where we’ve been and what we’ve learned:

I began our time together by meeting with as many congregation members as possible to learn the history of the church. Knowing this history has been very instructive in understanding where we are now.

It became very clear that, historically, FCUCC has become vulnerable to internal conflicts whenever our Congregational polity (rules and processes) is not followed. This is FCUCC “Achilles’ Heel.” Discovering that gave us a path forward during the interim time.

The Council is the governing body of a UCC congregation. The committees serve the Council by: 1) helping the committee members get to know and care for each other, 2) providing a healthy flow of information from the congregation to the Council and back, and 3) covering all 8 leadership areas for the congregation. This ensures that, no matter which one leadership skill the pastor has, the congregation will continue to move forward.

For 2020, committees were reconstituted. In order to strengthen the Council, the Nominations Committee designed the current committees in such a way that almost every congregation member is serving on a committee, and most are only on one committee. Attention was paid to Worship, and to Nurture and congregational care. New Education opportunities were developed, and at least 3 of those have continued online through Zoom during this Public Health Emergency. The Personnel Committee addressed staffing and hired a new office administrator, Tiffany Watts, who has been working through the summer to prepare for Pastor Mike.

In the meantime, we had a church retreat to learn which leadership skill we each have. It was a joy to discover the breadth and depth of FCUCC’s current leadership. In addition to deep faith, this is one of FCUCC’s strongest assets! We also developed several surveys to gather information about FCUCC so the Search Committee could accurately describe our congregation in our Church Profile as the search for a new pastor began.

Now that Pastor Mike has been called to serve FCUCC, several things are clear from what we have learned together over the last 18 months:

First, FCUCC is a group of people whose greatest strengths are profound faith and a firm commitment to serving each other and the community. Always remember this about each other!

Second, it is more important than ever during this time of change to follow the wisdom and the direction of your elected Council. This is a major gift of Congregational polity (our rules and processes). That will keep communication clear. In addition, this will allow Pastor Mike to have the leadership support he needs from the Council. I do believe that, by following Congregational polity and staying on track, Pastor Mike and FCUCC will succeed in living into the future God has in mind.

Lastly, during a pastoral transition, the final role of the interim pastor is to make sure the needs of the congregation and the incoming pastor are given priority. To provide a space for the congregation and the new pastor to bond well, the relationship with the interim pastor changes. [See UCC Guidelines (“A Sure Foundation”) and the UCC Ministerial Code] What that means is, going forward, I will not be performing any pastoral services, including pastoral care, for anyone connected with FCUCC, unless I am invited to do so by Pastor Mike. It also means that I will not be “friending” congregation members by any form of social media, either, for the next 1-3 years.

It has been a blessing to get to know you and journey with you during this time. You are an amazing, gifted, lively, and loving group of people. Thank you so much for asking me to serve you.

Blessings always,
Pastor Anne
Pulpit Fill for this week: Rev. Dr. Al Hohl
Sermon Title: Praying in Times Such as These

Council Meeting August 16th

Council meetings are open to anyone who would like to join and are done directly after our Sunday services. Please see the Agenda for our meeting this weekend HERE.

Committees, please make sure to get your minutes in to Tiffany prior to Friday so she can distribute them to Council members.
Congregational Meeting Announcement

Dear Congregation Members:

The following members of FCUCC have requested a Congregational Meeting to be held on August 23, 2020 following the church service. 

Earl Miller, Elias Miller, Greg Gregerson, Jeff Stellish, Jackie Stellish, Jay Rosenburg, Chris Schwerin, Michele Schwerin, Maddie Schwerin, Bella Schwerin, Phoebe Schwerin , Austin Johnson, and Darrin Johnson. 

They have asked that this meeting be called for the following reasons:

1.      Lack of collaboration and transparency: There was a request that was made to reserve the church for a wedding, which resulted in less than professional correspondence both with the requesters as well as with other members of the church. This is not the first example of this controlling and lack of loving and welcoming behavior.  

2.   Live Streaming: At the June 21, 2020 council meeting, this topic was addressed and although there was creativity being utilized to figure out how to pay for this work effort, there is not a clear plan. Purchasing equipment prior to congregation approval is inappropriate.

3.  Fiscal responsibility: Covid-19 has resulted in reduced contributions and Lois’s leadership has now alienated multiple family units reducing the monthly contribution by an additional estimated amount of approximately $3000.

The agenda for this meeting will include discussion of:

1.      Fiscal Responsibility as viewed from the perspective of the Council.

2.      Council’s process for installing the Live Streaming and preparing the church for this process. How it is being funded and the policies set forth for the Memorial Gifts and the Eidsmoe Fund to do this. 

3.      Transparency and lack of knowledge of church policies for congregational use of building and facilities. 

Whether or not you agree that Lois Darrow and Pam Ridgway should be removed from the Council, please plan to attend the all Church Congregational Meeting following the worship service on Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 11:45 a.m.

Sincerely,
Lois Darrow
Council President
PH: 712-490-5969
The FCUCC Building is Closed Until at Least September 1st
Our Hearts and Hands are Wide Open!

Due to the Public Health Emergency,
UCC Church Buildings in IA, NE, SD are Closed into the Fall

On July 23, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services extended the Public Health Emergency until at least October 22, 2020.

Siouxland District Health is working with the Iowa Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 in our community. Social distancing and frequent hand washing is encouraged to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

According to Siouxland Health, it’s important to:
  1. Avoid crowds where there are more than 10 people and practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently
  2. Support your local businesses
  3. Wear a mask when social distancing is a challenge . . .

SIOUXLAND HEALTH'S BEST PRACTICES 
  • Don’t congregate in large groups at the mall or in parks. Keep it to less than 10 people. Maintain a social distance of six feet.
  • Wear a cloth face covering. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2 or others unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Keep the Connection -- Join us on “Zoom”
Todd Siefker will be sending out an invitation link right before each event.

6:30 pm Wednesday – Weekly Reflection Time
2:00 pm Friday -- Friday Bible Study on Galatians with Pastor Anne
9:30 am Sunday – "Admiration Series" Study Session
10:30 am Sunday – Worship


ZOOM Meetings – Remember to Invite Others!
 
Invite your friends to attend the Wednesday night, Friday, or Sunday morning gatherings.
Each of us knows people who need connection during this time. You can send your friends the invitation link or send their emails to Todd so he can send them the invitation. This is a way to reach out and enlarge our caring community!
 
Before each Zoom session, you will receive an email invitation to the session. By clicking on the link included in the invitation, you can join the session.

You can join online with your computer OR by phone.
Follow the instructions that come in the email.
 
On Wednesday evenings, at 6:30 pm Todd Siefker will lead a reflection time.

On Friday at 2:00 pm Pastor Anne is leading a series on Galatians.
 
Sunday mornings will be a 2-part session from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. 
  • At 9:30 a.m. Todd Siefker will lead the Admiration Series. This Sunday we'll discuss Chapter 9 of Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.
  •  At 10:30 a.m. the Worship Service will begin. 

You can join in at any time during the morning by using the Zoom link.

Steps on how to work around a zoom meeting that has a password (passcode)
1.   Setup your own account with zoom
2.   Get link that is sent by the church in email
3.   Click on link it will open the zoon app once you log in to your account
4.   You will see "start new meeting" or "join meeting" click join
5.   This will bring a meeting ID screen - enter the meeting ID that is found in the email from the church
6.   Enter the meeting ID in the meeting ID feild - this will connect you to the meeting
7.   If the passcode is required enter the passcode that is found in the email from church
8.   Click "OK" after you enter the passcode
9.   You should now be in the meeting
Friday Bible Study with Pastor Anne -- 2:00 pm on Zoom
(online or by phone)
Although we're not meeting at Pierce Street Coffee Works right now, we can connect our tables together by meeting on Zoom. You're invited to join Pastor Anne for a series on Paul's letter to the Galatians.

August 14 Free to Create (Galatians 5:22-6:5)


Sunday Tech Buddies Needed

Our Council is attempting to include all members into our Sunday Zoom church services. To do this we have been brainstorming in several options. One of these is to set up Sunday Tech Buddies. To do this we need to:

  • Get a few Chrome Books (or the like) and set up to do Zooming. 
  • Find a few volunteers who have “hot spots” on their phones, and who are willing to be Sunday Tech Buddies.
  • Have the Sunday Tech Buddies bring a Chrome Book and their “hot spot” to those who do not have internet access. They would share the church service in a socially distanced way (masks, 6’ apart, using hand sanitizer before and after). 

If you have a “hot spot” on your phone and are willing to be a Sunday Tech Buddy to someone who cannot attend church right now, but would like to, give Tiffany Watts or Lois Darrow a call and we will begin working on this project. Call Tiffany at 712-239-3385 or Lois at 712-490-5969.  

Pastor Michael Castle
Earl Miller and Family
Sandy Gregory
Katherine Trautman
Sandy Sypersma
Madison Darrow
Beth Sakurai
The Van Berkum Family
The Bilka Family
Jay Rosenberg’s mother
Anne Cleghorn
Gary Shaner
Barb Joiner
Joan Lewis
Leo & Vonnie Leonard
Betty Schwerin
Cameron Mower & Family
The Willmott Family
John Dilenschneider
Lon Claeys' Family
All Teachers and Students


Take Some Time to Check in With Each Other

Remember to “check in” with the person(s) before you and after you in the current church directory. Let's make sure everyone is connected during this time!


Church Directory

Tiffany has been working to get the Instant Church Directory app up and running as well as updating our Church directory with the latest contact information on file. To access the app on your phone or computer you will need to go to the website www.instantchurchdirectory.com
or download the app on your phone. You will need to use the the email address that you have on file with the church. You can then sign up as a member and you will have access to the most up to date Church Directory. To access a PDF version of the current diectory information please click HERE.

If you need to update your information you can either send a request to update it on the app or you can call/email Tiffany in the office.

If you have trouble signing up please call Tiffany and she will help you. She can also snail mail you a hard copy of the directory if requested.

Moving-On Box Needs

Toasters
Kitchen Garbage Bags
Pinking Shears
9 x 13 Cake Pans
Paring Knives
Food Storage Containers

Communication

We are finding that our newsletter is only being opened by about 45% of the people who receive it by email weekly. Make sure you share the news that we have updated it to this new platform and that is is also posted to our website weekly. This is an improvement from last week's so keep sharing!

The Soup Kitchen

Council has voted to halt our in-person services to assist at the Soup Kitchen due to the dangers of COVID-19 and will revisit the project at the beginning of the year. If congregants would like to volunteer on their own, please contact the Soup Kitchen directly at their office number: (712) 279-3199.

The Soup Kitchen has been hit hard with the expanded need of families and individuals needing food assistance during COVID-19. Because of this expanded need in our community, they are asking that we continue to contribute, but to do so with Gift Cards or monetary means so that they can appropriately purchase foods as needed. Gift Cards from Fareway, Hyvee, Walmart, etc. would be greatly appreciated. They have served well over 8000 meals since the beginning of the Pandemic and the need is growing. You can drop the cards off at the Soup Kitchen or Mail them to:

717 W. 7th Street
Suoix City, Iowa 51103

They also have Venmo and Paypal for those who would like to donate through that method. Here is the info from them:

If you are wanting to make a donation please use the following:
Venmo : @siouxland-soupkitchen
PayPal : siouxlandsoupkitchen@gmail.com
All donations can be issued a receipt for tax purposes.


Remember to Support FCUCC Financially During this Time!

During this COVID-19 event, having no in-person services has impacted our normal income. Thank you to those who have mailed in checks!


FCUCC Finances for June 2020

Giving in July amounted to $8,987.00, all from mail-in and online giving.

You can help us stay on track by mailing in your check or setting up an automatic payment from your bank. You can also contribute through a simple app called Tithe.ly. 
        Tithe.ly is our online, app and web-based giving system. Tithe.ly is convenient because it:
·        Accepts debit, credit or bank account info
·        Can be set up for a one-time payment, or automatic regular payments
·        Can be changed at any time (there are no contracts or commitments)
Go to http://get.tithe.ly to sign up online, or download the app on any iPhone/Apple or Android device.


Rummage Sale
For those of you doing your spring house cleaning during this time, there is plenty of room to store things you wish to get rid of. Just bring them to church when Tiffany is in the office and she will open the doors for you.


Sharing Our Community Memories and God Moments
 
In the spirit of Pastor Al Hohl's book on Prayer we've been talking about the importance of Remembering. To Pastor Hohl, forgetting is not the opposite of remembering. He says that DISmembering is actually the opposite of REmembering. He writes, "...to not remember is to tear apart. What we tear apart runs the risk of being scattered in our imaginations" (Hohl 2020, 172). I believe we would rather not run this risk. 

We are starting our own Story Corps Project. We would like your story about how this faith community has benefited your life in written, audio recorded, or video recorded format. Please send them to Todd at tsiefker@gmail.com or back to Tiffany at our church email at office@firstcongregational.net. In case you need some prompts from Pastor Anne to get started, here are a few that might help:

  • I came to FCUCC because . . .
  • The person or group here who has made the most difference in my life is __ because . . . 
  • I learned something new here that deepened my faith when . . .
  • I was able to make a difference in the community/wider world through FCUCC when . . .
  • A time I met God through FCUCC was . . .
  • A favorite memory I have of my time with FCUCC is . . .
Office Hours:

Tiffany's Office Hours have changed. Her new hours will be M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pastor Mike anticipates that he will set his office hours to match that on a M-Th basis, beginning September 1st. We will update as this time comes nearer.
Church Office Hours

Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Church Staff:
Rev. Dr. Anne Dilenschneider, Interim Pastor


Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

Todd Siefker, Intergenerational Coordinator

Rick Darrow, Organist

Nate Hettinger, Choir Director
Church Contact Information

(712) 239-3385
office@firstcongregational.net
www.1stcongregationalucc.org

(605) 906-5404 (Cell)
leadwithsoul@mac.com

office@firstcongregational.net

tsiefker@gmail.com

darrowpipe@aol.com

hettingern@morningside.edu
4600 Hamilton Boulevard
Sioux City, IA 51104
(712) 239-3385