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Rick's Ramblings
Greetings from Rev. Rick

Rick's Ramblings...
The scarf I am wearing in this picture is something I picked up more than ten years ago when I attended our Presbyterian General Assembly in San Jose. I have been wearing it this week in honor of friends and colleagues in the Methodist Church who just this past weekend were dealt a major setback in their quest for full inclusion in their faith tradition.  
At its recent Convocation, a rough equivalent to our General Assembly, representatives of the church doubled down on their current traditional position that gay and lesbian folks can not be ordained in their body and clergy will not be allowed to preside at same-sex ceremonies.  
As I sit at my keyboard, Facebook posts on this development have been as numerous as the appearance of former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen on Capitol Hill which otherwise occupied the headlines today!
Like most major mainline church bodies our Methodist friends have been dealing with this issue for decades. After our own grappling with this current shift in understandings about human sexuality, in 2014 the PCUSA agreed to open the ordination of clergy, elders and deacons to qualified candidates who celebrate being gay; and we agreed to allow clergy to preside at same-sex ceremonies. This action by representatives of our denomination was not without its controversy and has resulted in the departure of a sizeable number of more conservative congregations to other religious bodies, or in some cases, the creation of entirely new associations of like-minded Presbyterian congregations.
The United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant body in the US, behind the Southern Baptist Convention. Worldwide, it is the largest Protestant body and it is largely those international church partners who lead the voting to maintain the status quo. A majority of Methodists in the US are accepting of a more open approach on this particular issue. And because of that large global constituency, it is not likely official Methodist policy will change anytime soon, though activists will of course continue the fight. It will change one day, but it will be a fight hard won.
I am grateful to be serving in a church that has arrived at a more open and affirming position regarding the LGBTQ community. Of course, there are still many who remain in the PCUSA who may not be convinced or who continue to struggle with the church's more open stance on sexuality matters. We are all welcome! We continue to seek a "big tent" approach to church that all who wish to remain under the umbrella are equally welcome. It's not always easy.
And while it may not be true of every single person, I'd like to believe that here at UPC we are overwhelmingly an open and affirming congregation, welcoming all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I want our members to let others among their networks to know that they will find a welcome here. Indeed, we have church members and extended family members who are gay or lesbian. I'd like to believe they know they are accepted without question here at UPC and by our loving God as well.
Everyone who comes through our doors needs to feel that God's house is a home for all. If they don't, we are failing our call! And not being like Jesus!
  And for that reason, one of our small street signs this week has been bearing the motto long ago adopted by our Methodist friends that is a worthy goal for every congregation, but not yet a full reality among us.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Rick

UPC Calendar (At-A-Glance)
March 3    
Ordination/Installation of Officers
March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 April 7, 14
Jesus Cafe Video Series after Worship 
March 6    
Joint Ash Wednesday Service, 7:30 pm
March 7,14,28    
Thursdays with Barclay Men's Group 7:30 pm
March 5, 19,26  
Newsong 7:30 pm
March 7,14,28    
Bell and Chancel Choir rehearsals
March 16      
"Lunch Bunch" Seniors Group trip to Centenary College
March 18      
Session meeting 7:30 pm
March 20      
Biblical Literacy Group, Broder home, 7:30 pm
March 24      
Session retreat, Camp Jburg
UPC Welcomes New Youth Coordinators
We are pleased to announce that the Session has recently hired Brian and Kara Tervo to jointly fill our vacant position of Youth Coordinator. They have been worshiping with us since the fall of 2017 and recently united with the church in our last group of new members. Kara and Brian are parents of three adorable daughters - Vivienne, age 3 and one-year old twins Rosa and Juliette.
Brian and Kara are 2010 graduates of Eastern University, a Christian college in the outskirts of Philadelphia. Brian majored in History and Minored in Biblical Studies; Kara majored in Elementary Education with a Minor in Special Education. Brian grew up just around the corner from the church and attended Mt. Olive High School. Kara grew up in Spring Grove, PA.
Prior to coming to UPC, they were involved in Mendham Chapel, a non-denominational church on Rt. 24. Both have faith backgrounds other than Presbyterian but have recently found the more open and inclusive approach of the PCUSA more suited to their faith journeys. They have been involved in the Biblical Literacy Group that meets monthly in the Broder home and Brian has been a member of our recently established Marketing Team. Kara has been an active member of our Joyful Noise Ukulele group (which Vivienne also attends to encourage her mom!) Vivienne is looking forward to attending Fun n Friends Nursery School in the fall. Kara is currently a stay at home mom; Brian recently started a new job as a Librarian at Bergen County Community College.
Brian and Kara are excited to be taking up the mantle of our youth program and will no doubt bring their backgrounds and experience to bear in providing lively and meaningful activities for our youth, especially the Middle School age group.
They will soon be holding an "Open House" in the youth garage to meet and get to know our UPC youth, to introduce themselves and to begin planning activities and meetings.
Stay tuned for more from and about Brian, Kara and kids. We are grateful that among the many things Spring will usher in this year, will be this new addition to our UPC staff.

Lenten Jesus Cafe Video Series
Each Sunday after worship Beginning March 3

Union Hill Women's Retreat
  Framed by Love:
Seeing the World Around Us
Through God's Eyes
Join Women from Union Hill Presbyterian Church for this  
spiritual and uplifting Retreat
led by Amy Clarkson and Lorelei Oeschlager  
"Remember You Are Dust and to Dust You Shall Return" - Ash Wednesday March 6
Begin the Lenten Journey with a
Traditional Service of Ashes at
United Presbyterian Church, Flanders
58 Drakesdale Rd. Flanders
Wednesday March 6th
7:30 pm
Sponsored by:
United Presbyterian Church, Flanders
Flanders United Methodist
Abiding Peace Lutheran

Deacon's Food Pantry Needs Replenishing
The Deacons need to restock the church's food pantry. We would greatly appreciate any donations. The following items are needed: Pasta, Jarred Pasta Sauce, Soup, Canned Yams, Canned Green Beans, Canned Peas, Canned Sliced Pineapple, Pancake Mix, Maple Syrup, Cereal, Tuna, Peanut Butter, Jelly, Canned Fruit, Macaroni and Cheese, Rice, Salad Dressing, Boxed Mashed Potatoes, Black Olives, and Puddings. Please place all items in the Food Pantry box in the narthex. Thank you for your help.

Deacon's Easter Baskets
In addition to the Food Pantry items, the Deacons need some items on Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019. These items will complete the Easter Food Baskets. We need hams, five pound bags of potatoes, dinner rolls, and salad bags. Please notify any Deacon if you are able to donate these specific items.

Annual Seder Dinner

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 6. Here at UPC means we are beginning to anticipate one of the highlights of our church calendar - our annual Seder Dinner, held every year on the afternoon of Palm Sunday, this year April 14. We know, that feels SO far away, but it really isn't. It's time to mark the calendar, save the date and get your reservation in. We had over 60 people last year, and with Glenn Swinson again whipping up his delicious meal of lamb, mashed potatoes, carrots and those prize-winning garlic green beans, we anticipate a larger crowd this year.  
This long-standing tradition here at UPC brings us together in a delicious fellowship meal to recall our roots in ancient Jewish tradition as we walk through our own version of the Passover Seder liturgy. After dessert of delicious home-made apple cake, we transition to the sanctuary to conclude the evening with a brief service of Communion, which has its roots in Christ's own Seder meal with his disciples.
Forms are also available in Sunday bulletins and in the church lobby. We encourage you to pay when you make your reservation, but if you are not able to, we will collect the day of as we commence our time together.

Team Build Day, May 4th 2019
Have you marked your calendar for "Team Build Day" with Habitat for Humanity? If not, you can still do that and join your brothers and sisters in Christ as we help build a home for a family that does not have one. The site is 121 Main Street, Succasunna, and the build day is Saturday May 4th from 8:30am to 4:00pm with a half hour for lunch. Sign up on the poster in the UPC Hallway. For more information, see Carole Rose or call her at 973-252-1927.

Let's join other volunteers and bless a family with a home!

Fun N Friends Nursery School








COST $40

Sign up on the bulletin board in church hallway  





Poetry Corner
(Argaille A. Di Matteo 3/1/19)
March wind! You are a Joy! The Winter becomes Your Toy!
As You in all Your Glory blow, You shout to Winter, "Time to Go!
"Spring is almost here, and I've got lots to clear!"
You seem to have no birth, for You circle 'round the Earth.
There is no real start to You; no end, March Wind, as You blow through.
You charm even the Sun! March Wind, Spring has begun!
A faint hue of light green on hillsides can be seen
Out in the warmer temperatures, blown in by Your own Overtures,
A'whirling through budding trees, as You call, "Flowers, please
"Begin your colorful Dance! And if you should, by chance,
Speak to the bushes and the trees, invite them too to dance with ease
In their own colors true, as I go blowing through!"
March Wind! You're a special Gift. Your spirit gives a Lift
To kites flying up in the air, or sailboats sailing from Here to There.
Pull us out of our comfort zones. Grab our hands if we're alone.
And pull us out to "raise our sails" as we navigate Joys, travails
Upon the Sea of Life, no matter Good or Strife.
Remind us with your Spirit, bold, of Blessings New, Godwinks untold.
Blow us into our dreams, no matter how Life seems.
No matter good times, pain, travails, we can change direction as we raise Faith sails.
Our spirits we raise high, as You, March Wind, blow by!

United Presbyterian Church, Flanders | (973) 584-8195 ||
58 Drakesdale Road
Flanders, NJ 07836