Welcome to the December Spire!

December 2016   | Volume 63, No. 11
News from First Congregational Church in Winchester, UCC
In This Issue

Advent Schedule
Offering Presence This Advent
Lessons & Carols: Durante's Magnificat
God's Grace at Work!
Christmas Offering Recipient
The Giving Tree

Upcoming Events
What Do You Thirst for This Advent?
Service of Light
December Jazz Vespers
Fisk Organ and Ripley Chapel Hearing
Cookie Walk
Children and Youth Upcoming Events

Ministry Updates
The Leadership Team Has Questions!
Small Group Opportunities
Let's Talk About Faith Series Follow-Up
Second Wednesday Bible Study
Monthly Men's Group
Ruth Group

For Your Contemplation
Seasons of the Spirit: An Advent Reflection
Books for the Season

We Need You!

adventschedAdvent Schedule

Monday, Dec 5, 7:00 PM
Women's Christmas Gathering
Sunday, Dec 18, 10:00 AM 
Lessons & Carols
Thursday, Dec 22, 7:00 PM 
Service of Light 

Saturday, Dec 24 , 5:00 PM
Christmas Eve Family Candle Lighting & Pageant

Saturday, Dec 24, NEW TIME: 10:00 PM 
Christmas Eve Candle Light Service 

Sunday, Dec 25, 10 AM 
Christmas Carol sing-a long 
Worship after the holidays will carry on as usual on Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary. A 45-minute Bible Study will be offered prior to worship at 9 AM in the Henry Room.

Read more about Advent...
Offering Presence This Advent

To bear Christ's presence is the call of all the faithful in whatever spheres of relationship and influence we operate in our day-to-day lives. Especially now in this post-election time, with many fearful of our president-elect's coming term, to "hold the Christ light" for one another is a critical practice. Can we take this on as a discipline during Advent? Read more...
Durante's  Magnificat

On Sunday, December 18, the Senior Choir will present the church's annual Festival of Lessons and Carols, a beloved tradition from England wherein God's word is proclaimed and contemplated in a special sequence of readings, prayers, choral anthems and congregational carols and hymns. Read about Francesco Durante's Magnificat, scored for chorus, soloists and orchestra... 

God's Grace at Work!
We celebrated stewardship on Pledge Sunday, November 13th, and we are very excited about the initial responses coming in. To date, 80 pledges have been received, totaling over $340,000. That's 65% of our goal of $525,000.
If you have already pledged, thank you for your generous and joyful giving. Your financial support is critical to our church's ability to meet its purpose, and we appreciate your generosity toward this goal. We also know that your decision to pledge comes at a time of year when many organizations are reaching out for support. A heartfelt thank you for making our Church a priority.
If you haven't yet pledged, please take a moment to fill out a pledge card and mail it to the Church care of Bruce Lauterwasser, Treasurer, or place it in the offering at worship. Pledge cards and envelopes can be found at the back of the sanctuary. You can also send a confidential email with your pledge amount to first.congregational@verizon.net.   
Thank you again and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.
-The Financial Resources Ministry

offeringChristmas Offering Recipient

This Christmas, the Outreach offering recipient is World Hope International,  a Christian relief and development organization working to alleviate poverty, suffering and injustice in fifteen of the poorest countries in the world. They partner with local communities to determine the most sustainable, grassroots solutions to injustice and oppression, with the ultimate goal of transferring ownership of all development initiatives to the community. Through these partnerships, the are committed to reflecting Christ's compassion for all who suffer by providing solutions for clean water and sanitation, rural and economic opportunity, education, health and nutrition, emergency response and freedom to survivors of anti-trafficking. Look for a letter with more details later in December. Offerings can be made at the Christmas Eve services or by mail to the church office.
givingtreeT he Giving Tree

Please help us make the holidays a little brighter for our neighbors at the Germaine Lawrence School, Lowell Transitional Living Center, Outdoor Church and the preschool at Woburn Council of Social Concerns. Please visit this website to view wishlists and to sign up. 

Please note the December 11 due date.  Contact Cindy Mahoney, Jody Skinner or Louise Ritenhouse  with any questions or if you need help signing up.

Upcoming Events
womensadventWhat Do You Thirst for This Advent?
Women's Advent Gathering on December 5, 7-8:30 PM

ALL women are invited for reflection, community and preparation. Please bring your teenage daughters, mothers, sisters, grandmothers and friends for the Women's Advent Gathering in the Tucker and Palmer Rooms. This is such a joyful event to plan and attend, so please consider joining the planning committee. Extra hands the night of the event are also greatly appreciated. Contact  Christine Tresselt or Wendy Procops  if you're interested. We look forward to seeing you! Click here for more info...
Service of Light
December 22, 7:00 PM, Sanctuary 

Join us for a time of prayer, candle lighting and music. Designed to move from darkness to hope, the service opens us to God's quiet presence. Come in the face of life's challenges, anxieties, and fears. Come when grief or loss disrupts life. Come to remember those whom we hold dear. Come during the rush of the holidays, or invite a friend or loved one facing difficulties.  Read more...
jazzvespers MUSIC MINISTRY
December Jazz Vespers
December 10, 4:00 PM

Join us for the final Jazz Vespers of 2016! Our spring services will begin on March 18. Read more...
RipleyFisk Organ and Ripley Chapel Update
Save the Date: December 18 Church Hearing

There will be a Church Hearing after worship on December 18 convened by the Fisk Organ Ripley Chapel Project Working Group. This session will provide information on the effort to restore the sanctuary organ and to answer questions from members of the congregation. There will be a Congregational Meeting in January where needed votes will be taken concerning this effort. The hearing will also allow for questions regarding progress to date on the Ripley Chapel effort.

cookieCookie Walk
December 11, 11:30 AM, Chidley Hall

The Rite 13 class will once again be hosting our annual Cookie Walk. Here's how it works:
  1. Families and individuals sign up beforehand to bring in a plate of nut-free cookies.
  2. Those cookie plates come in before church and the Rite 13 class sets up a display of the different cookie trays. 
  3. After church everyone comes down, grabs an empty plate, and selects a variety of different cookies..
  4. The class beautifully wraps up your plate and you provide a small donation which goes to a local charity.
Keep an eye on the weekly emails for more details!
youthChildren & Youth Save The Dates

December 11
Youth Progressive Dinner for all 6-12th grade students

December 24
Christmas Pageant: All children and youth are invited to participate

February 12
Confirmation  begins for all 10th-12th grade students
Ministry Updates
leadershipThe Leadership Team Has Questions!

The Leadership Team, the Diaconate, and others want to learn more about your joys and concerns as they pertain to our church. Over the course of the next few Sundays, we will be coming around before and after worship (and seeking you out!) to discuss some basic questions with you. Find out what we want to talk to you about...
LTUpdateLeadership Team Update

We've added a new element to our Leadership Team meetings: each month, one member shares their faith journey, perhaps reminiscing about what first brought them to FCCW, and how the church has sustained them and strengthened their relationship with Christ in changing ways over the years. So it felt appropriate that much of the Leadership Team's recent energy has been focused on ensuring that our physical structure is prepared to support the spiritual life of the church. Learn about our next steps...
A Note from your Treasurer

I'm keeping a close eye on 2016 pledge payments as we approach the end of the year. So far, we are doing well with over 93% of pledges paid up as of Thanksgiving. In early December I will start touching base with those folks whose 2016 pledge payments are significantly behind schedule. I realize that some people prefer to wait until late in the year to make their charitable contributions, and I don't mean to pester anyone. I just want to be able to anticipate any possible shortfalls in income before we reach the end of the year.

The 2017 budget will begin to take shape in December. To date I am very encouraged by the response to our 2017 pledge campaign. A good response will allow us some flexibility in the budgeting process. As mentioned last month, I am very open to thoughts on the 2017 budget from the congregation so feel free to contact me with any ideas or concerns that you might have.

-Bruce Lauterwasser, Treasurer

Small Group Opportunities

What is faith? How do you "get it?" What do you do with it? These were the questions we grappled with in the recent series sponsored by the Faith Exploration Ministry. Over three consecutive Sundays after the worship service, we gathered in a large group and brainstormed what we mean by "faith," how we define it, and how we describe it. Read more...

biblestudySecond Wed n esday Bible Study
December 14. 7-8:30 PM, Health Ministry Office

We are reading through some of the letters of Paul. We started with Galatians and are now on Ephesians. This is new territory for most of us and at a level everyone would be able to participate in. Each month's gathering is self contained so come when you can. This month we will read some of the Christmas story as a closing just to get us in the mood. Come join us! 

mensgroupMonthly Men's Group 
Sunday December 4, 7:30-9 PM, Palmer Room 

All FCC men and their guests are welcome. We discuss matters that are personal and spiritual. Pot-luck beverages or snacks are welcome but not expected. Questions? Contact Chris Noble .
ruthRuth Group

The December meeting of the Ruth Group will be held on December 11th at 7 PM at the home of Maryann McCall-Taylor, 8 Sanborn St, Winchester. Please bring poetry of your choice. If looking for authors, consider the recent Poets-Laureat Juan Felipe Herrera or Richard Blanco or the poet Tagore. All women of the church are welcome. For more information contact Joyce Mills at 6178354692 .

For Your Contemplation
An Advent Reflection

Often for us, in our 21st Century world, Advent is a time of frenzy, hurry, and unrealistic expectation of others and ourselves. Can we as a community of faith encourage each other to take time to ponder and pray, to wait and watch for the ways Christ may be coming into our lives in unique, unexpected, and surprising ways? Read more...

seasonalbooksBooks for the Season


Please notice as you pass through the lobby there is a new display for December. The "Library table" offers Advent and Christmas books for adults and children, including three new titles to entice you to borrow. Escape from the frenzy of the season and contemplate the deeper meaning of Christmas.

We Need You!
Do you have an hour, an evening, or a weekend to give? Here are a few opportunities to serve your church and community.

poinsettiasChristmas Poinsettias

If you would like to donate a chancel Christmas poinsettia as a memorial, or in honor of someone, please download and fill out this form. You can then place it in the offering plate with cash or a check attached. (Please indicate "Christmas plants" on the memo or envelope). The plants are $20 each and are due to the church office by December 11th. If your family can help deliver the flowers and Christmas cheer after the service on Sunday, December 18th, that would be wonderful. Just meet Kathleen in the Family Room. Thank you!
Habitat for Humanity

Join us for work day on December 3 at the new site in Lawrence. Adults and youth 16 years and up, please contact Doug Taylor, 617-448-8327 or Andrew Beltz.
Something to share?

Please send submissions to newsletter@fcc-winchester.org by the 20th of each month. For example, to include an article in the January issue, please submit by December 20. Please note that submissions may be gently edited for length and clarity, and will appear on our website. Bulletin and email blast requests should be sent to Sarah Marino, our Office Manager, at first.congregational@verizon.net by Thursday at 9:00 AM.

-Nancy Kneiss, Editor