"Children, go where I send thee..."
January 5, 2021
From the bishop's office
Special Delivery
We’re just now wrapping up our 12-day celebration of Mary’s delivery of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. First day of Systematic Theology 101 with Dr. Jenson, Gettysburg Seminary, 1983: Who is God? Simple answer: God is whoever rescued Israel from Egypt and whoever raised Jesus from the dead. In other words, long before Domino’s Pizza, God is, if nothing else, the one who delivers!

NC Vaccine Prioritization Plan Update
Shared by Dave Richard, deputy secretary for NC Medicaid:

A tested, safe, and effective vaccine for COVID-19 will be available to all who want it, but supplies are currently limited and will continue to be for the next few months. Based on new federal recommendations issued (recently) by the CDC Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Department has updated and simplified the vaccine prioritization plan. Please review this Infographic of Vaccine Phases; we are currently in Phase 1. Keep checking the Vaccines page on the website for more information and resources as they are available.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
The theme for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Abide in My Love...You Shall Bear Much Fruit” (John 15:1-17). The week of prayer will take
place January 18-25.

Congregation Council Info Request
Now that the new year has arrived, please share the contact information of your new congregation council officers. We would like to invite them to join our council training times and share resources with other council officers. Thank you for taking the time to fill out this form.

Rostered minister transitions
All are invited to the Ordination of Joshua Lewis Copeland on Wednesday, January 6, at 7:00 p.m. via streaming on the NC Synod Facebook page via Facebook Live. The Reverend Dr. Timothy Smith, bishop of the NC Synod, presiding; The Rev. Marcus Ollis, preaching. Your prayers and online presence are requested. Josh will serve as pastor at Our Saviour, Christiansburg, Virginia.

All are invited to the Ordination of Anna Elisabeth Carter on Saturday, January 9, at 2:00 p.m. via streaming on the NC Synod Facebook page via Facebook Live. The Reverend Dr. Timothy Smith, bishop of the NC Synod, presiding; The Rev. Dr. Richard Lischer, preaching. Your prayers and online presence are requested. Anna will serve as pastor at Holly Grove, Lexington.

All are invited to the Installation of Pastor Tim Poston on Sunday, January 24, at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom. (Use this link to join the meeting; Meeting ID: 824 9273 5475). Pastor Tim serves as pastor at St. Philip, Raleigh.
Of mourning
William "Bill" Robert Patterson Jr., the fiancé of Holly Zemke (Administrative Assistant for Evangelical Mission), died on December 26. We mourn with his family. Read the full obituary.
Pastor Peter Setzer, (retired, Charlotte), husband of Deacon Sue Setzer, died of complications related to Alzheimer’s on December 30. We mourn with his family. Read the full obituary.
Ron Heuer, brother of Pastor Ruth Ann Sipe, died on December 22, as a result of a head injury from a fall. We mourn with his family.
Carol Joyce Hollar, wife of Pastor Bill Hollar (retired, Conover), died on January 3. We mourn with her family. Read the full obituary.

Of healing
Brenda Bass, the wife of Certified Lay Preacher Chris Bass, was recently diagnosed with Covid Pneumonia.

For the Epiphany of Our Lord
Almighty and ever-living God, you revealed the incarnation of your Son by the brilliant shining of a star. Shine the light of your justice always in our hearts and over all lands, and accept our lives as the treasure we offer in your praise and for your service, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. —prayer of the day (alternate) from Sundaysandseasons.com
News from across the church
Symbols of the Season
Move over, inflatable yard Santa and giant, illuminated snowman! Here comes Jesus.

That’s how retired pastor Luther Swicegood, a member of Mount Tabor Lutheran Church, West Columbia, S.C., talks about a style of outdoor lighted Christmas decorations he created. His large, lighted Christograms are a spinoff of Chrismons, handmade tree ornaments shaped like religious symbols and ancient Greek letters.

Fraud Alert—COVID-19 Scams
As the number of people and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic grows, so do the scams associated with it. Scammers use public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes, and because older adults and people with disabilities are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, they may target these populations.

A message of solidarity
We tend to romanticize the nativity of our Lord to make it more comfortable and enjoyable. In fact, the birth of Jesus was more fearful than joyful and more anxious than calm.

Resources for your congregation
Regathering Church: 2021 Update
The FaithHealth Division of Wake Forest Baptist Health is excited to offer you a new webinar on Wednesday, January 13, at 10:00 a.m. with Dr. Ernst-Bischoff, Epidemiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Dr. Ernst-Bischoff will discuss congregational regathering, the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations, and what to expect in 2021. He will be available to answer your questions.

Learn more, register today. (The webinar is FREE, but space is limited.)
Rebekah Krevens Lectionary Art
As a pastor, I would often look for images I could use for bulletin covers and worship slides to go with the passage I was preaching. I found it challenging to find affordable quality images, so I decided to paint my own. For the second year, I'm offering a subscription to my images. You can use these images for bulletin art, worship slides, social media posts, etc. These images are for a one-time license use for worship and congregational ministry. How it will work: I’ve created a Google Drive folder you’ll have access to all year. I’ll add each Sunday’s image at the beginning of each week. Access for the entire year of 2021 is a $45 one-time payment

Surviving a COVID Lent & Easter (Again)
Join Illustrated Ministry's CEO, Adam Walker Cleaveland, and Director of Product Development, Rebekah Lowe, for a chance to check out all of what Illustrated Ministry has to offer for Lent and Easter during this PRC—Practical Resources for Churches-sponsored webinar on Tuesday, January 12, at 1:00 p.m. Illustrated Ministry is ready to help you get through these church seasons during a global pandemic (again).

Did you know?
Take a look at Religion News Service's gallery of photos of religious expression around the world—the best photos from 2020.
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