March 19, 2020

          It seems like the world has stopped. Everything has been canceled, postponed, closed. School, vacations, sports, conferenced, retreats, all kinds of events and get-togethers are eliminated from our calendars.
         And it all seems to be moving so fast. It took but a moment, it seems, to go from the warning to “wash your hands and cover your cough” to the whole world stopping before our eyes.
         It feels so very foreign to me that we would cancel church. It would seem that just when we need church to most – in a time of crisis, high anxiety, isolation, and financial insecurity - we should be getting together to support one another. When we are filled with fear and need the comfort of the familiar, the need of prayer and connection with God, my inclination is to gather, to bask in God’s presence, and to be there for one another.
         But so it is that those very gatherings are what will leave us most at risk for the spread of disease. The sanctuary is a difficult place to practice “social isolation” and the “six-foot rule.” No amount of hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, or modification to our worship practices is going to eliminate that risk. The best way for us to protect one another is to not gather.
         And that is painful and sad. It goes against every fiber of my faith in a God who is bigger than our fear, stronger than a virus, and wiser than any of us who claim to be leaders. It pushes all the buttons of those of us with enough self-confidence to proclaim that we are immune to every threat.
         Yet closing down the church building is the only compassionate thing for our congregation to do in the face of this invisible threat. We don’t know how long this will last. All we can say is “We’ve never done it this way before, but let’s make the best of it.”
         We can BE the Church: closing down the church building does not mean we stop BEING the church. We can still practice compassion to our neighbors and seek justice for those who most at risk. Here are some simple things each of us can do:
·        Check on your neighbor: older neighbors, the neighbor on chemo, the neighbor whose kid is not getting their meals at school, the neighbor who is a medical professional, emergency worker or delivery person who still has to go to work and could use help with childcare. When we help our neighbor, you are being the church. You are living the gospel, taking the church out of the building, and giving life and hope to others.
·        Support your leaders. Your church leaders have had to make these really hard decisions in these uncertain times. We were not trained to do this; there were no classes in “how to do church in times of crisis.” We’re making the road as we go. We are trying new things and doing the best we can to keep the community together and healthy. Please hold the members of council and the church staff in your prayers.
·        Pray for all of the church family. Pick up your church directory, or check into Breeze and browse that directory. Send some notes. Make some phone calls. Start with our homebound members, but don’t stop there. Who in the congregation is alone? Who might really be struggling during this time of isolation? We are the body of Christ even when we can’t gather. Find ways to stay connected with your kindred at Christ’s table.
·        Send in your pledge. Okay, that might seem tacky. But it matters. So long as you are able, please continue to give to the church. Look into our online options; you can give on line, by text message, or by contacting your bank to have them send a check through a bill pay service. Or, drop a check in the mail, or send your gift by way of an Uber driver-- do what you have to do. Even if the building is empty, bills and salaries need to be paid; what’s more, you’re helping your church maintain mission commitments to the community in a time when that commitment is more important than ever.
·        Make this time productive spiritually. Consider it a sabbatical from life. Use this time to acknowledge the stresses of the situation and find some quiet and peace. Spend some time in silence and focus on just your breathing. Sit still and focus on being present in the moment. It’s also a great time to spend with family – watch some Netflix or Hulu with a family member even if you have to call them on the phone while you’re both watching. Go back to that first suggestion and reach out to your neighbor. If your family is with you at home, spend time with them – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have close bonding experiences. Talk about what you can learn from this whole experience. Talk about your blessings. Play a game. Make something. Listen to music. Or anything else that will be worshipful in its own way.
         Worship has always been a time of renewal and re-connection. Use this time to accomplish that renewal and reconnection in a new way.
         The world has not stopped even if your calendars are empty. The world becomes what we make of it. Let’s look at our discomfort as an inconvenience and make this time a gift–time to sit still and be with God and with your family; a time to Be The Church instead of Being At Church.
Week at a Glance: March 20 to March 29
Friday (March 20)
9 am: Overeaters Anonymous (OA)
Saturday (March 21)
8 am: Saturday Meals Program - take away only
Sunday (March 22)
10 am: Worship ( or call 708-381-1297)
7 pm: Overeaters Anonymous
Monday (March 23)
7:30 pm: Alcoholics Anonymous
Friday (March 27)
9 am: Overeaters Anonymous
Saturday (March 28)
8 am: Saturday Meals Program - take away only
Sunday (March 29)
10 am: Worship ( or call 708-381-1297)
7 pm: Overeaters Anonymous
Join Us in Virtual Worship
Click here at 10 a.m. on Sunday to watch the service or follow these instructions to watch through your Roku Device. You can also call 708-381-1297 to listen over the phone.

Made possible by the estate of Ginny Palansky and maintained by your gifts, offerings, and pledges.
One Great Hour of Sharing
Please consider a donation to UCC's One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) on March 22. Through the OGHS offering, you will be planting seeds of new life.

Your donation will provide disaster relief and will support refugee initiatives. By donating, you also will be investing in communities worldwide: providing education to girls and boys, empowering communities through vocational training, supporting microcredit lending and seeing people through to self-sufficiency, empowering families with skills to support themselves and their neighbors, and participating in sustainable solutions that offer dignity to all.
Riding Into the Future
Our church is healthy, growing, and financially stable. You might say we’re flying high! So now is the time to plan for our future! And we need YOUR input!
Your Church Council has pulled together a long range planning team that will take on a R.I.D.E. The Acroynm stands for:
R eading about current trends in church development and Reviewing the trends within our congregation’s ministry. The team is currently at this stage. We will report to the Congregation our findings at a Town Hall meeting following worship in the Founders’ Room on April 5.
I nterviewing the congregation about your hopes and dreams, needs and interests. These interviews will happen within Teams and Committees, in Cottage Meetings, and other get-togethers. These will begin the week of April 5 and be complete by May 31.
D – (study the) Demographics of our area and reflect upon how that information effects, influences, and challenges the information gathered through reading and interviews.
E valuate what we’ve learned and identify themes. The team will present to a Town Hall Meeting in the Founders Room following worship on June 14 a summary of what we’ve learned, the themes, trends, needs, and directions identified. From the feedback offered, the team will then refine the plan with goals, objectives, benchmarks, and methodology. The refinement will continue with Congregational Input through the Fall.
A final draft of a 5 -10-15 year plan will be presented for congregational approval at the Annual Meeting in January of 2021.
The Planning team is: Chris Bryant, Amanda Murphy, Amanda Ries, Erik Sander, Erik Toman, and Carly Stucklen Sather. Look for a lot of information about this process in the days ahead. Your input to this process is vital to its success.
Exploring Membership
Official welcoming of new members is postponed for the time being, but everyone is always welcome to join us, in whatever way available!
Gardening, Anyone?
Carly has available 4'x4' raised beds for organic gardening in the yard of the parsonage. If you like to garden but don't have the space, see Carly for more information.
Book club
Join us to discuss Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History . A New York Times bestseller, this non-fiction book follows the events immediately preceding, during and after the 1900 hurricane that inundated Galveston, Texas, killing over 6,000 people. Author Erik Larson “expertly captures the power of the storm itself and the ironic, often catastrophic consequences of the unpredictable intersection of natural force and human choice.” Our meeting is Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 pm in the Chapel Family Room. Everyone is welcome. Hope you can join us!
Youth Group Meetings
Youth group meetings will be postponed until a later date. Thank you for your understanding.
Thrive with Pride Cafe
Thrive with Pride Cafe meetings will be postponed until a later date. Thank you for your understanding.
Exploring Membership
Welcoming of new members will be postponed until a later date. Thank you for your understanding.
Green Team News
Vegetarian Cooking Class
The vegetarian cooking class will be postponed until a later date. Thank you for your understanding.

Green Tip
As of 3/3/20, the EPA has a list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease such as Clorox, Lysol and Purell products; click here for more info.

For an eco-minded Lent, try one or more of the suggestions offered here.
Music News
Friends of Music
Our church is fortunate to have a vibrant music program with volunteers as the cornerstone. Augmenting our volunteers with guest players and singers for special services is made possible through the Friends of Music fund. Choral Sermons, Easter and Christmas Eve musicians, as well as regular Sunday morning guests would not be possible without these gifts. The 2020 giving drive has begun and brochures are being mailed. If you do not receive one, or would like to learn more, please ask Ryan Cox.
FCCLG: 140 Years and Counting!
March 2021 marks our 140th anniversary and we'll start planning the celebration in October . If you'd like to help commemorate this momentous occasion, raise your hand! Better yet: Sign up in the church office.
  Prayer is at the heart of our relationship with God. Please lift these friends, family, and members in your prayers.
Prayers for the family of Ardell Arthur Baker, Charlene Tobin's sister and JIll Tobin's aunt, who died on March 7th.
Emil Balz at Meadowbrook La Grange.
Jim and Vi Clayton.
Nancy Heil’s friend Vanessa, a UCC member and restorative justice practitioner,
who recently had a kidney transplant.
Ron Kloss at Plymouth Place.
Stephanie McCollough.
The family and friends of Dorothy Mackie, Dawn Mackie’s mother, who died March 10th.
Margaret Melkonian, at home.
The family and friends of John Sayles, who passed away February 15.
Sister Marlene Schemmel, Congregation of St. Joseph, as she battles kidney cancer.
Bob Taylor, who is fighting stage IV liver cancer that has spread.
The Tobin family, particularly Charlene and Jill, in the death of Richard K. Tobin.
Sarah Carr’s cousins, the Wilson family, with Liam, who was born 13 weeks early and should be going home soon.
Those killed, the injured, and their families in acts of violence.
Those at the border.
Those living in fear and without hope, and those who use fear to control others.
Those in the path of COVID-19.

To send your thoughts / prayers to someone listed above, place a completed Touch Card (they're in your pew) in the offering plate and the office will address and mail it. Let us know if you or someone you know is hospitalized or receiving medical treatment because HIPAA privacy laws prohibit doctors and hospitals from contacting us. If you know someone who'd like a visit from the Called to Care Ministry team, contact Called to Care Ministry Leader Jennifer Burney by calling the church office at 708-352-0800.