"Celebrating God's Presence, Serving All People"
United Church News December 28, 2018
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,      

A new year is upon us once more. Will we just experience more of the same in 2019? Will we live into old identities? Will we simply accept the status quo with an attitude of pessimism? Or will we embrace the new change, new ideas, and new attitude that Christ will bring into our lives in 2019? On Sunday, I'll be preaching a sermon entitled "Stargazers." I hope to encourage all of us to lift our eyes beyond the status quo to follow the star in the new year. 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark
This Sunday's Sermon Title and Scripture Reading
Sunday, December 30th
"Stargazers"
Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12
Reader: Byron Farrell
A Very Merry Christmas
We truly hope your Christmas was full of blessings. May the magic and wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the coming year! Thank you for sharing in the joy of the season with us at our Christmas Eve services.
Our 5:30pm Christmas Eve service featuring a performance by the UCMI Children's Church, singing "Baby Jesus, In a Manger."
Our 7:30pm Christmas Eve service featuring a performance by the Brass Ensemble.
Last week, Pastor Mark took the staff out for a Christmas lunch at Capri Fish House! 
Year End Generosity
As 2018 comes to and end, I wanted to thank all in the congregation for their faithful giving to United Church. Please note that Sunday, December 30th is your last opportunity to:

  • Make a gift to United Church in 2018
  • Become a music patron in support of the 2019 Music Concert Series ($100pp)
  • Return your pledge card for 2019

Blessings, Pastor Mark 
Four Ways to “Prepare Yourself for God’s Blessing” in 2019

May God give each one of us “an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying” as we prepare for the New Year. Here are four ways that we can prepare ourselves for God’s blessing to rest upon us spiritually, physically and relationally.


1.     Don’t end 2018 without a fresh commitment to reading His Word . How can I grow spiritually if I am not willing to invest my time wisely? ( 1 Peter 1:23 )   “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God”.
2.     Don’t end 2018 without learning to pray like you have never prayed before. Spend quality time focusing on God daily, discussing your future with Him! ( Psalm 116:1-2 )   I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
3.      Don’t end 2018 without openly forgiving those who have offended you. How can I expect to be a blessing to others, if I am not willing to be healed in my heart? ( Matthew 6:14-15 ) “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”.
4.      Don’t end 2018 without catching up on giving your tithe and offerings to the Church where you receive spiritual nourishment. How can I expect my life to flourish if I am not willing to financially bless His work on this earth? Malachi 3: 7-10 “Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?' 8 "Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?' "In tithes and offerings.

GOD HAS GOOD PLANS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY RIGHT HERE AT UNITED CHURCH OF MARCO ISLAND. PLEASE JOIN ME IN ACTIVATING THESE FOUR SIMPLE ACTIONS THIS WEEK! LET’S LAUNCH INTO A GREATER FUTURE, TRANSFORMING OUR PAST STRUGGLES INTO TIMES OF REFRESHING, ENJOYING THE BLESSED FUTURE GOD HAS DESTINED FOR US.

Happy New Year,
May God Truly Bless us all!
Pastor Kathy Sprague
Hospitality Needed for Pastor Kathy
Dear Congregation,

Pastor Kathy is a God-send! She is of to a great start in ministry at United Church. So as to meet United Church's most pressing pastoral care needs during the busy winter season, Pastor Kathy agreed to begin in ministry with us almost immediately following our extending her a call agreement. She is currently in the process of transitioning her life from Fort Myers (where her previous church ministry position was located) to Marco Island. As she and her husband Randall transition their lives southward, it will take time for them to secure living arrangements. During this transition time, Pastor Kathy has been making 5 round trips a week from Fort Myers, spending approximately 15 hours of drive time each week. This is only going to get harder during snow bird season and with the addition of a 8:15am service on Sundays beginning January 4th. All of us have a vested interest in helping her out.  

I believe we can help her. If we could find a place on the island where she could stay 3-4 nights per week until the Spragues complete their transition, Kathy would be so blessed. We would save her a lot of time on the road so as to afford her more time to focus on her new ministry. 

If you have a room or a house/ condo to share, please call the Church at 239-394-6572 and ask to speak with Pastor Kathy Sprague.  

This would be a GREAT blessing! 
Pastor Mark

Attention Music Patrons!
Join our Concert Patrons for 2019, and help bring the best in concert entertainment to UCMI. Patrons will be seated in reserved sections at each concert, close to the performers! Patron membership is $100 per seat per year. Simply note "Patron" on your check.

If you would like to see the Concert Schedule for 2019, make sure to pick up a brochure in the Narthex or Church Office.
Join Us for Our Men's Fellowship Speaker Series!
A three week event, Wednesday's, January 9th, 16th, and 23rd, each day from 2 to 3:30pm.
Join as we welcome, Thomas Eastwood, a retired Director of the IRS Michigan District where he managed over 1500 employees and all IRS activities including criminal investigation, audit, collection, taxpayer service, and administration. He previously served as IRS Director in Milwaukee, Louisville, and Fargo, Dean of the IRS School of Professional Development in Washington, and Assistant Director in Manhattan and Indianapolis. He was a member of the Senior Executive Service.
He will discuss various topics, including, Spies and Espionage, Churchill's Secret Army, and Presidential Assassinations. For more information on the speaker click on the link below.

To ask questions on the speaker series contact Chuck Jennings at 239-389-5690 or via email at cwjcaj@gmail.com.

All are welcome to attend- Invite Your Friends!

January 9th
Spies and Espionage

January 16th
Church Hill Secret Army

January 23rd
Presidential Assassinations
Children's Church


12/30 Teacher: Sheila Sawyer
Lesson: Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God

This Week in Music
United Church Band Rehearsal headed by Director Wes English. Rehearsals are on Thursdays at 2:30pm in the Choir Room
January 10 & 24
February 7 &21
March 7 & 21
Performances will be during service on January 27, February 24, and March 31

If you have some experience playing a wind instrument and would like to become a member of the United Church Band, contact Wes English through the Church Office. The Music Department desires to develop a voluntary church band consisting of wind instruments to accompany hymns, play preludes, offertories or postludes once a month. It is anticipated that there will be two rehearsals per month from December through April.
Bargain Basket Update

EXTENDED SEASONAL HOURS
Beginning January 2nd

Monday: 9am-4pm
Tuesday: 9am-4pm
Wednesday: 9am-6pm
Thursday: 9am-6pm
Friday: 9am-4 pm
Saturday: 9am-4pm

Holiday Closures:
December 31st, Early Closing at 1pm
January 1st, Closed
Upcoming Promotions

Thursday, January 3rd
Dollar Picture Day is back! Find the perfect artwork for your home at just $1.00!
Facebook Join My List Logo
In The Coming Week at UCMI

Thursday, January 3rd 1pm Ladies Who Lunch (Su's Garden)
3:45pm Choir Rehearsal (Choir Room)
5pm Hand Bell Rehearsal (Sanctuary)

Click on the link below to see a list of all the events at UCMI
Sermons can now be watched via the website. Please click on the link below.

Thank you Peter for recording our Sunday services!
Soup Ministry

Many in our congregation often endure seasons of challenge in caring for themselves and loved ones. United Church's kitchen freezer is now stocked with delicious, healthy chicken noodle soup in the freezer for any who are in need. Simply stop by the church during office hours if you are in need and Wanda would be happy to help you. A sign out sheet for the soup is located adjacent to the freezer in the kitchen.

Pastor Mark and Pastor Kathy
Altar Flowers for Rememberances, Blessings, and Thanksgivings
The donation amount for the altar flowers will now be $50 in accordance to the decision of the Deacons Committee.

If you wish to sign up to donate altar flowers please do so after service in the narthex.

Thank you!
This Week's Birthday Celebrations!

12/28   Joan Gallo
12/31   Pat Miller
1/02 Susan Furek
1/02 Louise Russell
1/03 Zoe Joyce
1/05 Dick Hearn
1/06 Bev Figge
1/06 Carol Peterson
1/06 Betsy Reese        
Sorry we missed your birthday-
If you are not currently on the birthday list and would like to be, please stop in to the office or call and we will make sure to not miss it again!