Straight to the Point
November 3, 2020
Words that Inspire

“We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.
We rise and fall and light from dying embers,
remembrances that hope and love last longer.
And love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love,
cannot be killed or swept aside.
Now, fill the world, with music, love, and pride.”

-- Lin-Manuel Miranda
from his Tony Award acceptance speech for Hamilton
Mike’s Markings - Life at the Intersection of Contemplation and Action
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Love is often a favorite topic in our world today. In his 2016 Tony Award acceptance speech for Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda said, “love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love.” Leo Tolstoy said, "All, everything that I understand, I only understand because…I love." In the movie Moulin Rouge! Christian says, "Love is like oxygen - love is a many splendored thing - love lifts us up where we belong! All you need is love!" Echoing songs from Sammy Fain and the Beatles and others.

Despite its many splendored superlatives, love is also one of those shifty things. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Orson Welles, when speaking of love, said, “We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion…for the moment…that we're not alone.” Tina Turner sang, “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a secondhand emotion?” And many believe she was talking about her troubled marriage when she sang that.
 
Yes, love is one of those shifty topics, even in the church. What is love? Where is love?   We are living in some crazy times. A pandemic has upended everything. We just went through another divisive and hateful election season. Our politics (and religions, too), instead of bringing us together and calling us to live our common dreams and higher ideals, are pulling us apart. Injustice and inequality are still all too common in the land. To claim and exclaim love goes against so much human experience right now. Tina Turner’s words sound rather on point - “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a secondhand emotion?”

But into all that that, the words of 1 John 4:7-21 boldly announce and pronounce what we need to hear. What our world needs to hear today. What we as the Church, we as the people of God, need to embody today. God IS love!

To proclaim "God is love" is not easy. To proclaim "God is love" is downright radical. To proclaim “God is love” is to take your stand in a counter-cultural place. As Flannery O’Connor once quipped:" You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd." But none of that matters really, because we know and trust that nothing, nothing is able to seperate us from the love of God . Because God IS Love!

And Love is our hope. Love is our calling. Love is our mission. Love is central to who we are and all we do. To proclaim “God is love” is a bold confession that demands a bold faith and bold action. For how will anyone believe God is Love unless they see this in us? How will anyone be convinced that beneath the all too often crushing burden of everyday life flows divine love unless we give love? How will anyone know unless we live love?

“Beloved, love!” This is the theme for the stewardship season we are entering. Where is the Love being known and shown in our worshipping, learning, serving, caring and giving? This is the question before us that is calling for our prayerful, considered, and courageous response! A Pledge Card for you to offer your financial commitment for 2021 went in the mail this week. Please return your Pledge Card to the church (or go to our church’s webpage and set up a recurring contribution) on or before Sunday, November 22, when we will celebrate our offerings of Financial Commitment during our morning worship service. Your generosity and your intentional faithful giving is life to our church.
                                                              
Thank you for all that you already do to be the hands and feet of God, for a world so in need of the Good News that God is love. Thank you for all of you giving you do to support the work of church among us and beyond us. Thank you for Not just telling others about this improbable truth but SHOWING them it’s true through your lives and in your actions.
               
So, what’s love got to do with it? Absolutely everything! Keep on sharing the love, God’s love. Keep on telling the stories of love. Keep on filling the world with love. And keep on being God’s love for all.

For what the world needs now…especially now…is love.
Congregational Meeting

A Congregational Meeting is called for this coming Sunday, November 8, 2020. It will be held directly after Sunday's worship service and there will be a ZOOM option available for those who cannot attend in-person. This is to address the church's financials. Please plan to attend, if you can.


Open and Affirming Status

Several members of the congregation attended a webinar from the UCC Conference on the process of becoming Open and Affirming. We feel that FCUCC is well on our way to becoming Open and Affirming but there is still conversation that can take place to finish the process. If there are any congregation members that are interested is being part of this process, please contact the church office or Pastor Mike to get your name on the list so you are included. 

Upcoming Worship Schedule:

November 8th - 23rd Sunday after Pentecost - Communion - Sunday Service at 10:30 a.m.
  • Congregational Meeting to follow worship


Exciting news! Church Nursery Update
PLEASE contact Ginger France if you are willing to volunteer.

The Church Nursery will be open during the Sunday 10:30 Worship Service starting Sunday, November 8, 2020. Jessica Orr will be returning as the Nursery Coordinator and she is very excited to see the children again!  With her help, the toys have been sorted and cleaned out and ready for kids to use. Ginger France is putting together a schedule of volunteers to act as the 2nd adult in the Nursery each Sunday.

Guidelines for the Nursery 
  • Temperature to be taken at the door for adults and children before entering the nursery 
  • Upon arrival adults and children will wash their hands 
  • All adults must wear a mask 
  • There will be 2 adults in the Nursery at all times with the children
  • Children over the age of 2 should try and wear a mask or a face-shield  
  • Children age 3 and up must wear a mask 
  • All dress up, plush toys and extra pillows will be removed
  • If a toy is soiled meaning it has been sneezed on, coughed on, or put in a child’s mouth it will be placed in a bucket that is out of reach and will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of the day 
  • Items that cannot be cleaned easily such as books, blocks, crayons, markers, play-dough and paper will be rotated. Used for one day and then put away for a week. With each basket being used every 2-3 weeks depending upon supplies
  • All hard surfaces (toy shelves, doorknobs etc.) will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day.
  • All tables will be cleaned and disinfected before children arrive and at the end of the day.
  • If a table or surface is dirtied (any bodily fluids), it will be cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible
  • Toys will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day
  • All toys will be rotated where possible
  • A snack will not be provided at this time, if the parent/guardian of the child feels their child needs a drink they must provide it. The child will sit at table with their drink.
Estate Sale
Hosted by Randy Peters

Randy Peters will be hosting an estate sale in the Fireside room of the church November 6th, 7th, and 8th. There will only be access to the Fireside room from the upper parking lot and all who are interested are welcome. Those in attendance are encouraged to follow the church's health precautions in wearing masks and social distancing when possible.

It will be open:

Friday, Nov. 6th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 7th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 8th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thanksgiving Fund Drive
Hosted by The Missions Committee

We all recognize that this has not been a 'normal' year. Because of covid, we did not have our 'normal' fall Children's Closet, fall rummage, or bake sale to raise funds to give the Thanksgiving donations to the eight community agencies we support annually. The Missions Committee would like to give our church members an opportunity to contribute to the important work these agencies accomplish.

The agencies are:
  • Food Bank of Siouxland
  • Mary Treglia Community House
  • Safe Place (formerly CSADV)
  • Sanford Center
  • Siouxland Soup Kitchen
  • Warming Shelter
  • Welcome Home
  • Women Aware

The Thanksgiving Fund Drive will collect your contributions for 5 Sundays beginning October 25, and continuing through November 22. Checks may be written to FCUCC and put in collection plates at church or mailed to Treasurer FCUCC at 4600 Hamilton Blvd, Sioux City 51104. Please write 'Thanksgiving Fund Drive' on the memo line.
*Please note that this should be a donation over-and-above your regular pledge/contribution to the life of our church.

Thank you,
The Missions Committee

A Note from some of these agencies:
Mary J. Treglia Community House was established in 1921 to serve the needs of newcomers to the Siouxland Community. Throughout it’s nearly 100 year history and beginning with Mary J. Treglia herself, the organization has worked to identify the needs of the immigrant population in Siouxland through education, services, advocacy and celebration of diversity. This continues today as Mary J Treglia Community House board and staff envisions a vital and diverse Siouxland community of self-sufficient, responsible, and engaged residents. We accomplish through programming such as a DHS accredited Preschool Program, Translation/ Interpretation Services, Legal Immigration Services, Adult English Language Learning, Cultural Competency and Community Outreach, and Family Services. Annually, nearly 2210 (unduplicated) families are served.
 
Thank you for your continued support! Stay healthy and Safe.

Welcome Home Project
To First Congregational United Church of Christ,

Welcome Home is a transitional housing program for homeless or at risk of becoming homeless families. When someone enters the program we complete an assessment of needs with them. We want to determine what obstacles they need to overcome so they can move forward towards a successful future. We then put a plan together and we work hard at finding solutions to those problems whether it’s getting them plugged into programs in the community that can help them, helping them get remedial services if needed, helping create a budget for them to follow, if needed we help them create a resume’ and assist them in finding work, we then help them fid housing and whatever else they need to become successful. We even help them with furniture when they get ready to move to their permanent home.

The attachment is a thank you letter we received…. Click HERE to view it.

Thank you so much for all you do!
Connie Noreen/Welcome Home

Greetings from the Sanford Community Center!

As we know that the Missions Committee is working
to support non-profits in spite of our current restrictions, we would like to express our appreciation to the members of the Missions Committee and congregation for your support over many years.

First Congregational UCC food donations help us
with breakfast in our Before School Program, supper
in our After School Program and emergency food baskets for families in need. Monetary donations are placed in a designated grant account and funds are used for food we purchase from the Foodbank of Siouxland or
Sioux City Schools Central Kitchen.

Again, thank you for helping us serve our community.

Sincerely,
Fitzgerald P. Grant
Executive Director

At the January 2020 point in time study, the Coalition to End Homelessness identified 305 homeless persons. The reality is that there are many more who are not in places where they get counted. And of the 13 area shelters, there is only one place where a homeless man, woman or child is welcomed without conditions- The Warming Shelter.

In its seven seasons the Warming Shelter has been a refuge for men, women and children who have nowhere to stay because they do not meet the criteria of the other shelters. The Warming Shelter is a “wet” shelter that accepts individuals who may be substance impaired, experiencing a mental health crisis or have been restricted from housing. During that time and without receiving any government assistance, the shelter has provided over 73,000 nights and 25,000 days of shelter and no homeless person has died from exposure. The Warming Shelter tries to live out Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 25:31-53 by serving the “least” of our brothers and sisters. Services include a bed, linen, showers, sundry and clothing items, referral services and limited health and food support.

Even with COVID challenges, the shelter will be open this season and will be collaborating with area agency to work for the health and welfare of those without shelter. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and the church for thinking of us.

FCUCC Thanksgiving Dinner
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Submitted by Nan Cord

The turkey, dressing, potatoes and gravy have been ordered for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. However, due to the high number of coronavirus cases in our area, we won't be able to all dine together in our Fellowship Hall. Therefore, the food will be put into individual take-out containers to be eaten in our homes while remaining together in spirit. The dinners will be handed out following our Sunday service on November 22nd. If those of you not comfortable attending the service want to participate, you may drive up and it will be brought to you.

Reservations must be made by Monday, November 16th. Sign-up sheets are available at the church. You may also email or call the church by the 16th. A donation toward the cost of the dinner will be required. I f donations exceed the food expense, the balance will go toward the Thanksgiving Fund Drive for the community agencies.
Time to Save Receipts
Submitted by Ginger France

Please save:
*HyVee grocery receipts (dated Aug 23 and after)
*Boxtops for Education
There’s a collection box wrapped in balloon paper in the narthex near the office.
Thank you~These will be donated to a local school and shared with Mayflower Congregational’s preschool.

Book Club
Submitted by Barb Knepper

The book club has resumed meetings. Here are the upcoming meetings and the books they

-Thursday, Nov 12 at 9:30 AM - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Authored by Willa Cather

These meetings are to be held in the church library, but can also be accessed by ZOOM. Please contact Barb Knepper if you would like to join the meeting via ZOOM.


Directory
Managed by Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

We are using new church management software in the office, which is called REALM by ACS Technologies, and this includes a digital directory. Tiffany sent out those invitations by email, if you need assistance please call or email her in the office.

Please inform the office of any directory updates that you would like to include for yourself or your family. You can also pick up one of the directory update forms on the table outside the church office or find it on our website.

Instructions on how to access our new directory can be found by clicking HERE. Please call or email Tiffany if you need to be re-sent an invitation to join/access our directory.

Sanford Center
Submitted by Jan Nowlen

The after school program at the Sanford Center could use donations of the following items:

Chicken Nuggets
Hot dogs and buns
Individual packaged servings of chips,
Treats (no peanuts),
Fruit cups
Juice boxes
Large cans of Nacho Cheese
6 pack boxes of macaroni
  (These two items can be purchased at Sam’s Club)
Large cans of chicken noodle soup

You can drop your donations off at church or at the Sanford Center. If you would prefer to send a monetary donation, please send it directly to the Sanford Center and mark it after school meals. Thank you!

Remember to Support FCUCC Financially During this Time!
Updates from Church Treasurer

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 October 2020

Giving in October amounted to $7,742.00, 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.

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
9:30 am Sunday – "Admiration Series" Study Session


ZOOM Meetings – Remember to Invite Others!
 
Invite your friends to attend the Wednesday night or Sunday morning Adult group 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.
 
Sunday mornings will be an adult session from 9:30 a.m. until 10:15 a.m. 
  • At 9:30 a.m. Todd Siefker will lead the Admiration Series.  

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
Admiration Series Update
Hosted by Todd Siefker

Starting last Sunday, November 1, 2020, the Admiration Series started reading David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. This book has been a real blessing to me.  I really think this will be an enriching study for our faith community. I invite you (and a friend) to this study. 

David Brooks strongly believes that a part of the healing balm for people living in the midst of a collective moral crisis is to immerse themselves in the examples of people who have thrived in challenging times.

This course/discussion/book study will be offered simultaneously on Zoom as well in person at church at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

Please feel free to purchase a copy of David Brooks’ book The Road to Character from Random House (2015) on line. If you don't purchase the book, you can still participate in the discussion. We will also use videos and photo copies for upcoming readings.  



Jay Rand - Kelley McCarthy's Brother
Madison Darrow
Jan Nowlen
Tyrell Tanner and Family
Dick Owens
Sandy Gregory
Katherine Trautman
Bud Ziebell
Cameron Mower & Family
All Teachers and Students

Thank You, Volunteers!

A big "thank you" goes out to our volunteers who have helped with Sunday Services this week. These were:

Eileen Helvig - Worship Leader
Nan Cord - Usher
John and Jerrod Kiernan - Sound, Lighting, and Screen Display
Paul Ebsen - Live Streaming
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!

Moving-On Box Ministry
Submitted by Ginger France

MOB Needs:
Dishes/Bowls
Glasses (plastic, if possible)
9 x 13 Cake Pans
Cookie Sheets
Toasters
Potholders
Dish Soap
Frypans
Communication
Updates from Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

We are finding that our newsletter is only being opened by about 44% 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.

The Soup Kitchen
Updates from Jan Nowlen

The Soup Kitchen has been hit hard with the expanded need of families and individuals needing food assistance during COVID-19. They have been serving well over 3000 meals per month and are runing critically low on some items and are completely out of others.

Current Needs:

3 Compartment To-Go Containers
To-Go Soup Bowls
Fresh Fruit
Lettuce
Celery
Carrots
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Sandwich Bags
Salt and Pepper Packets
Tortilla Chips
Sliced Cheese
Stick Butter or Margarine

Erik's Closet Needs:
Socks
Underwear
Deodorant
Shampoo and Conditioner
Toothbrushes
Face Masks
Plastic Bags

You can drop donations and gift 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.

Rummage Sale
Updates from Jan Nowlen

At this time we have postponed the Rummage Sale, however, those of you who are cleaning and de-cluttering your home 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 upstairs for you to bring your things in.
STTP Submissions
Under Pastor Mikes direction we have begin to notate submissions and who is hosing different events, so that the proper people can be notified/contacted should questions arise. If you need any help getting in contact with the peoole who have submitted anything to the newsletter please call or email the office and Tiffany will be happy to help you get in touch with them.
Church Office Hours
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday



Church Staff:

Rev. Dr. Michael Castle, Pastor

Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

Todd Siefker, Intergenerational Coordinator

Rick Darrow, Organist
Church Contact Information

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



pastor@firstcongregational.net

office@firstcongregational.net

tsiefker@gmail.com

darrowpipe@aol.com
4600 Hamilton Boulevard
Sioux City, IA 51104
(712) 239-3385