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June 12, 2015

Grace to you and peace from Carly, called to be the prophet, teacher, and vision caster among the saints, sinners, missionaries, learners, and kindling in La Grange and beyond.  

Ours is a calling to be a witness to the Realm of God which longs to be born anew within, among, and around each of us.  


I feel strongly about names. Names are so very important. A name is not just something by which we are summonsed. Our name is the foundation of our identity: when someone calls us by name, they recognize our humanity. When we put our names to something, we are declaring our ownership of the idea, the content of a document, the commitment of the contract. When we make the effort to learn the name of another, we expose a human connection between us. When we sign a letter, we declare our stand behind the information represented in the words offered.


I make an effort to learn the names of people I meet. For me, this is an issue of hospitality. Knowing the name of another honors them as fellow humans; it shows that I care about them as individuals and fellow humans on the journey of life.


Every Saturday I have the honor of hosting the Saturday Meals Program as the pastor of this congregation. The name of this program is significant. It is not called the "soup kitchen" because that would presume something about our guests that might not be appropriate. We serve hot, nutritious, home cooked breakfast and lunch - not just soup -- to people who choose to dine with us at the busy corner of South La Grange Road and Cossitt Avenue. We have guests, not customers. The name, "Saturday Meals Program" reflects a human connection; it honors the individuals who choose to break bread with us. No matter what, no matter who, no matter where you are on life's journey, everyone is welcome and honored as you are.


Our guests are not a crowd of anonymous faces. They are as diverse as the community of La Grange. We host those who have no economic need but hunger for the fellowship of a community meal; those who are food insecure; the cash poor; those who struggle to keep their heads above water; and the homeless. As the host and pastor, I take care to try to learn the names of all of our guests. I take time to listen to their stories, to check in with how each is doing. By calling each by his or her name, I seek to honor them as individuals and I honor the spark of God's spirit in each. I would do no differently than if they were guests in my home. Hospitality is not a luxury; it is a mandate of our faith. Names are an important part of this hospitality.


Let's learn one another's names. Let's get to know who is sitting in worship with us. Let's share the gift of hospitality with the strangers and guests in our midst. My challenge to each of us this summer is to strike up a new relationship with at least 3 people you don't yet know in the congregation. Sit next to someone you don't know in worship. Reach out to that someone with whom you haven't spoken at coffee hour. Go out for lunch or coffee with that person who always sits on the other side of the room. Let's learn and honor the God-Spark in those around us.




Church News and Reminders

Babies, Brunch, and Baptisms
We've had a lot of babies born this Spring! And all are invited to have their parents bring them to brunch on Saturday, June 13 to get to know one another and for their parents to connect and share in an informal atmosphere. There will be an exploration of the meaning of Baptism at First Congregational Church so that parents can make
                an informed decision about baptizing their children.  
The gathering will take place in the Drawing Room at 10:30
and is open to all families who wish to participate. Brunch will be provided by the fine cooks of the Saturday Meals Program. Parents are asked to let the office know by June 6 if you can join us. 

On Fathers' Day
, we will celebrate the sacrament of Baptism for all who desire to participate.     



The Village of La Grange Wants To Regulate Jesus


We are The Church, the Body of Christ, who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and care for the vulnerable in society. Our mission and purpose is a holy calling; we are protected by the First Amendment. That right is being called into question in La Grange.


The Zone Commission of the Village of La Grange met on June 9 to discuss amendments to the Zoning Laws. One of these amendments would allow the Village and its residents to dictate what we we can and cannot do as the Church in our building.  


Because of a strong turnout at the meeting by representatives of churches and faith communities in the Village, the Commission tabled these amendments until after a "workshop" meeting can be held to pull in the ideas of the larger community in the amendments being proposed.  


If the amendment titled IB Special Use List (ZC §8-205) 8-205(S) S. [revision] Religious Organizations is passed in its current form, depending how "core Religious Mission Activities" is interpreted, it may be necessary to have the village's approval for our Saturday Meals Program, and our Conservatory of Music. We might need permission from the village and our neighbors to provide space for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Indian Guides, AA, Al-anon, OA, NA. We would need a special permit to lease our space to social service agencies. But most disturbing, the Village government would define and interpret our church's core mission and values.  


The proposed amendment:

Revision to IB Special Use List (ZC §8-205) 8-205(S) S. [revision] Religious Organizations, including core religious mission activities but not including the following as part of a religious organization's facility: (i) independent social services agencies providing services and assistance to the general public except by approval of a separate special use permit, (ii) other independent services agencies except by approval of a separate special use permit, (iii) retail trade, (iv) personal services or other services to the general public.


The logic behind this amendment as it was presented to the area clergy:


Churches throughout the Village seek ways to use their buildings and to allow others to use their buildings both to promote their mission and to increase their revenue. In some cases a particular use does not appear to promote the church's mission and allowing that use may set a precedent for other non-mission uses in that building and for other churches. Churches in the Village are often located directly within single family residential neighborhoods. The uses a church allows in its building may not be compatible with nearby residences, whether it be an independent social services agency, organizations such as Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Kiwanis, and others, or something other such as a monthly teen rock-and-roll battle of the bands competition


Please plan to attend this zoning workshop at 7:30 pm on July 14. If you cannot attend, please contact the Village Board Members to voice your opinion.


Thomas E. Livingston                             


Malia Arnett


Bill Holder


Michael Kotynek                                                           


Mark Kuchler                                                                   


Mark Langan





Volunteer Opportunities
St. Barbara's Food Pantry Collection 

St. Barbara's Food Pantry collection item for May is canned beans (refried or whole) and canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, ham, spam, or hash). Thanks for your support!


CNN/Meals on Wheels 

Community Nutrition Network/Meals on Wheels provides meals and resources to older adults and persons with disabilities, and assists them in leading healthy and active lives. If you can  

volunteer to help prepare or deliver meals to home-bound seniors, or have any questions, please call Tanya Harrison at 708-310-4434.  


Lawn Mowing

The grass is green and it's time to mow! Sign up to help keep the church lawns looking their best. We have both a self propelled mower and a rechargeable mower for you to use. This includes the front, back and side lawns.

The sign-up day and time are listed as Saturdays, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, but the actual day and time you mow is flexible.  

Reaching Out


Party for Pillars celebrates the hard work that Pillars is doing to build healthier communities right here in the western and southwestern suburbs. The Pillars Hawaiian Holiday is a casual luau with delicious food, dancing, and a signature island cocktail. The event is on Thursday night so you can Party for Pillars and still enjoy your summer weekend. Pillars Hawaiian Holiday, a Luau for a Cause will be on Thursday, June 18, 6:30 pm to 11 pm at the Village Club in Western Springs. Tickets are $50 per person. See 


In Our Church

HANG OUT WITH 'Flat' Jesus

"Flat Jesus" is a concept based on the children's novel "Flat Stanley" where Stanley is accidentally flattened when a bulletin board falls on him. What Stanley quickly discovers though is that being flat has some incredible advantages! He can go to all kinds of places that he couldn't go before!


Children in elementary schools were given their own paper cutout of Flat Stanley (early 90's) and took him to all corners of the world on countless adventures. Friends and family took him on vacations, invited him to community events, family gatherings, the possibilities were endless. They would take a picture of themselves with Flat Stanly wherever they were, doing whatever they were doing, write a few short details about their adventure and the adventures of Flat Stanley grew.


Flat Jesus is a twist on Flat Stanley. You are all invited to take a cutout of Flat Jesus, color and decorate him, and take him with you throughout the summer, sending pictures and stories back to the church via Facebook (tag the church!), email, or drop them by the office. We'll print photos and put them on the bulletin board in the Office corridor.


What a great way to share our faith and remind us that Jesus is with us wherever we go. This is an easy-to-do outward expression of an inward faith. Keep an eye out for pictures of the adventures of Flat Jesus on Facebook! I'm pretty sure one of the adventures will be to Tower Hill!


We have photo albums from the preschool for 1984, 1987, 1993, and 1994. If you would like any of these photos or albums, stop in the office and they're yours! They'll be available till June 15th.  



The next meeting of Evening Book Club will be on Thursday, June 18th at 7:30 pm in the Chapel meeting room. We will discuss The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. This mesmerizing Australian novel is a bestselling book around the world, and Hollywood movie rights were recently snapped up by Dreamworks. Copies are available at the
La Grange library.


Hooks & Needles meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month in the summer at a member's house. The next meeting on June 22nd will be at Barb Hultman's, and the following on July 13th is at Linda Lauterbach's.



There are no Big Brunch meetings in June or July. The next one will be August 16.


At the end of summer we feel restless and on the verge of new and exciting possibilities: How to respond to the Spiritual callings we feel? Where do we fit into God's plan? There isn't a better place to explore these feelings than on the women's fellowship retreat. Women of FCCLG please mark your calendars for Aug 22 & 23. All are very welcomed. We have been graciously invited again to Doris Bryant's home on Diamond Lake in Michigan, to explore with Pastor Carly, how to be attuned to the Spirit which surrounds us and make it a part of our lives. There will be time to enjoy the lake, to read, to talk with each other and be away from lives filled with hindrances which steal time from us. For more information please see the volunteer table or contact one of our hostesses, Jo-Anne Konkle, at 708-484-2099 or


There will be a Women's Fellowship: Retreat Planning Meeting on June 27th at 9:30 in the Drawing Room.


FCCLG has been blessed with the arrival of many new babies! We want to support the parents as they tend to their babies during Sunday worship. This summer, the Ministry of Nurture has set up a Mother's Table in the Drawing Room supplied with food and drink.  
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14



If you have an extra vase we can use to deliver altar flowers in, please bring it to the office or the Drawing Room kitchen. Thank you! 



What's keeping you away from the summer services? Family vacations, busy youth sports, or summer camps? All three will consume most of the next several weeks at our house, so Sunday mornings we'll be on the road or taking the opportunity for an extra hour of needed rest. That could create a budget crisis for our church, but our convenient e-Giving options allow us to always stay current on our pledge. We can make one-time payments when we can't attend services, or set up recurring monthly payments.

Consider using our electronic giving. You can access a Vanco form from the church website.  


Music News

Save the Date: Summer Musical Camp registrations are available. This program is for students in 1st to 8th grades and takes place July 27th to 31st from 2 - 6 pm. Performances will be at 7 pm on July 31st and 10 am on August 2nd. This year's show is Are We There Yet? (The Story of Moses and the Exodus). Please contact Ryan Cox for more information.   


Summer Musicians of all ages are invited to play, sing or ring starting in June. The choir is off for the Summer, so we need you!  Not a soloist, but want to lend your talents? That's ok! Ryan will find an ensemble for you, just contact him for more information or to sign up. 


First Conservatory, offering private lessons on most instruments including piano and voice, is housed in YOUR church. For almost 20 years our expert teachers have instructed many of the area's youth and adults, including many fine musicians in our congregation. Contact Ryan Cox to start lessons or for information to pass along to a music lover you know. Taking lessons is first and foremost for the student. However, the Conservatory has a symbiotic relationship with FCCLG. Each month the Conservatory contributes $1125 for the use of space. It sponsors teachers to play occasionally during our services and also provides all of the piano tunings in the building, including the sanctuary. More students means more opportunities for the Conservatory to support the church. We hope you will help make that happen!

Did You Know?

  • In October, the Council approved the sale of the manse at 113 S La Grange Road. The closing on this property was in November; following some legal negotiations, we received the final disbursement this Spring. It was the decision of the congregation that the proceeds of this sale be directed to the necessary improvements and upgrades of the church building to make available space attractive to lessees. Plans are in process to do this. Keep watch for upcoming news.
  • Our Building Use Team has been hard at work exploring possible ways to help our building pay for itself through leasing and rentals. They have met with wedding coordinators and attended a wedding expo in order to explore expanding our ministry to couples seeking a wedding venue. They are reviewing our wedding policy and investigating possible means to get the word out. When you see Marie Roche, Susan Blazek, and Sandy McLaughlin, congratulate them on their great work!

  • Have you noticed the increased number of visitors and guests in worship? Be sure to introduce yourself and welcome them all!
  • On June 21st, we'll be celebrating the sacrament of Baptism with a number of families from the congregation and neighborhood
  • Our worship services can be viewed on the internet? It's summer time, so you know you'll be away for a couple of Sundays. If you'd like to see what you're missing, click here and choose the Sunday service you've missed. For the full service, check out our Vimeo page. 
  • Over the years, we've accumulated a lot of "stuff" in the church. Jerry Palmer is working with Renee Bryant of the Property Committee to arrange for an "Estate Sale" to help alleviate some of the "clutter," and to raise funds for our general budget. Members will be given "first options" on what is collected. So, again, watch for upcoming news!
  • While our expenses are well below budget, we are running a $26,000 deficit; your help is needed to close the gap! First, help the Stewardship Team with fun fund raising ideas. Contact Ken Moe, Rich Bradley, Dave Bryant, Jerry Palmer, or Ted Tomkinson with your ideas! Second, over when you are out of town this summer be sure to send in your pledge and gifts. Or, please consider automating your giving through Vanco or your bank!

Touch List

Your Cards and Prayers Will Comfort and Touch...

Rita Baumann, Mary Cooper's Aunt who is having surgery on June 15th. 

The family of Mary Crist who passed away May 12th.

Dawn & Rick Geist, who lost their home in the tornado on April 12th.

Our thoughts are with LuAnn Hall's niece Jessica.

Lois Hindman, who is house bound with a brain condition.

Tony Kasnick, Dave Kasnick's nephew.   

Roger Leidigh, Kathleen McConnellogue, and Jennifer Powers who are each dealing with health issues.

Erin Swan , daughter of Chris and Renee Bryant, who has ongoing medical issues.

Mike Tobin, his sister Jill, and mother Charlene who received good news.