ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1
11:00 am - 1:00 pm Individual communion in the chapel.
7:00 pm Worship service in the chapel.
More details in next month's church life
As most of you know our son, Brian Smith, has been with the Marines since 2001. Recently his enlistment was extended and he was required to return to Iraq. Brian has now served for 5 years with deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iraq. During that time he refused to allow his name to be placed on any list of outside organizations that send packages to soldiers because he knew that his family would take care of him and he wanted those without family to get mail. However, after missing 5 birthdays, 5 Thanksgivings and 5 Christmas, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Before Christmas I asked Paris if I could make Brian's address available to the congregation and he did so with a couple of announcements.
Fast forward to Christmas 2005. Brian and his fellow Marines left their ships before Christmas and during the course of their duties did not receive mail for a couple of weeks. Upon returning to their base camp sometime after Christmas, they were told that since they did not have a mail clerk they had to go pick up their own mail. Obviously this was not a problem. Brian was a little apprehensive about what might be waiting for him because he had not received anything from home in a long time and we were notorious among his buddies for the size and quantity of packages we sent him.
Upon arriving at the mail tent Brian asked for his mail and the Marine in charge asked if he brought a truck. Brian laughed and joked that he knew I hadn't really sent that much. The Marine turned around and pointed to two large military mail bags and said "That's yours." Brian was absolutely flabbergasted and had no idea where all the mail came from. It took him and his buddies two trips to carry everything back to their tent.
Brian began opening the mail and realized that it was for him and it was from you and was completely overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity and immediately began sharing his bounty with all around him. Then after the big Christmas surprise, they were sent off to the field again and were gone for two weeks. When Brian returned there was another large mail bag full of mail for him. So for two mail calls he received three full bags of mail. That's a lot of mail.
He said to tell you that words could not express the amazement, wonder and happiness that all of your packages, cards, letters, etc. have brought to him and his fellow soldiers. He has given mail to men and women that he knows have not, and will not, receive mail and he has shared packages with them also. The letters and cards are passed around and the books are being used as a sort of lending library.
Your kind thoughts, prayers and generosity have made the lives of these men and women measurably more bearable and brought light into darkness. It never ceases to amaze me what we as individuals can do when our efforts combine. I'm sure most of you did not know who or how many would write to Brian but through each of your efforts an enormously powerful message was sent to these men and women.
I can tell you, that in addition to the gratitude of Brian and his fellow Marines, David and I are also overwhelmed and grateful for your kindness towards our son. You have made this a Christmas none of us will ever forget.
Susan Lovingood and David Duncan
Dear Church Family and Friends
I must let you know how grateful we are for your prayers and well wishes during my extremely stressful health problems - to come out of surgery and find out the problem was not cancer was almost more than we dared to believe. God was good to us and we are eternally thankful.
The "caroling" and cookies the Sunday before Christmas left a good, warm felling in our hearts.
Thanks be to all of you.
Betty Ells and Family - Dale, Brian, Kathy & Ken
Sunday ended on a lovely note. Have heard 24 Christmas songs on the radio and one quickly tires of the many versions of Jingle Bell Rock and so forth. Then when you all came with the beautiful sounds of carols God seemed to be saying "This is the real musical celebration - relax, enjoy and remember." Which was easy to do, all of you who made time for carols for shut ins can not be thanked enough! Please just know how looked forward to and how beautiful your voices are a really wonderful gift of yourselves and talents.
My family and I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and thoughtfulness. My sister, Jackie and I spent a lot of time together and I will miss her dearly. Please continue to pray for us all as being our journey of healing.
God Bless You All,
- Brynn Addison Kerber was born on December 27th to Jeff and Amy Kerber.
From February 5th through February 28th adults at First Congregational Church UCC will have these opportunities for spiritual and personal growth. Each class begins at 9:15 AM & ends at 10:00 AM. Child care will be provided.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, written by Marilynne Robinson is the story of John Ames III who is a Congregationalist minister in a small Iowa town. His voice, poured out in a letter to his young son, explores life's quest for meaning and a relationship to God. Participants in the book study will explore 4 or 5 sections of the book's exceptional prose. Each week handouts from the book will be used to discuss an idea or perspective from Gilead so that no one will need to purchase the book. Join Patti and Sandy to enjoy and reflect on portions of this remarkable book. The Christian Science Monitor says "Gilead [is] a quiet, deep celebration of life that you must not miss." Paperback copies of the book will be available for loan or purchase.
Facilitators: Patti Scroggins and Sandy Taenzer
Footsteps of Peter and Paul:
An In-depth Study of the Book of Acts
We are following Paul as he travels through modern-day Turkey and on to Greece. We've met some interesting characters so far as well as some familiar ones. Come sail into these biblical waters with us. No biblical expertise is necessary, and it doesn't matter if you haven't been in the class previously. Come join us for a close examination of a church filled with less than saintly saints and not-quite-unredeemable sinners. The class is discovering we all fit into the church quite nicely.
Facilitator: Paris Donehoo
Coming in March...
A Clearing Season and Living with the Mind of Christ - Lenten study
Footsteps of Peter and Paul: A Study of the book of Acts (continued)
2/01 Sandy Dalton
2/01 Taylor Stark
2/04 Elizabeth Sharf
2/06 Pat Segel
2/09 Sandy Taenzer
2/10 Orval Volkening
2/14 Kristian Zoerhoff
2/14 Zachary Brictson
2/16 Betty Butler
2/16 Diane Mason
2/16 Jeffrey Vesely
2/17 Thomas Leith
2/19 Kyle Ehret
2/21 Kyle Breunlin
2/22 Brian Stark
2/25 Gene McGinnis
2/26 Olivia Munson
2/28 Ruth Munson
- George Albee was admitted to Sherman Hospital for pneumonia. He is home and recuperating well.
- Ron Whetstone had knee replacement surgery on January 16th. He is recuperating well.
- Dorothy Gerber was hospitalized for several weeks. She is back at Rosewood and doing well.
- Betty Ells had surgery to remove what appeared to be malignant tumors in her lungs. The good news: Betty came through the surgery just fine. The best news: pathology reports indicate the spots in question were not malignant.
- Bruce Cook, Dorothy Cook's son, had surgery on January 13 for mouth cancer. Preliminary reports are encouraging.
- Jean Hove passed away on December 21st. Dr. Donehoo and Rev. Pat Lindquist led a memorial service on December 30th at the church.
- Florence Palmer passed away on December 28th. Pastors Lois and Paris led a memorial service on January 7th at the church.
- Virginia Koop passed away on January 19 at her son's home in Wisconsin. A memorial service is scheduled for January 28 at 11:00 in the chapel.
- Mary Hensley, Evelyn Johnson's sister, passed away on December 31 in Stockton, California.
- Administrative Assistant Pat Calvin's sister, Jackie Palzer, passed away on January 11th. A funeral service was held on January 16th in Darien, Illinois.
- Barbara Phelps, Fred Steffen's sister, died on January 21 in Elgin.
Mission Trip Update - Meeting on February 5th
The 2006 mission trip will go to the Native American Reservation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. We will leave Friday morning, July 7th, and return Saturday night July 15th. This trip is open to all adults and youth of our church. We will have another informational session of February 5th in the library following the worship service. Deposits of $75 per person may be made at the meeting on February 5th and are due no later than Sunday, February 12th. For more information please contact Lois or Lori Kemmler.
Sister to Sister
Our Sister to Sister group will meet on February 9th at 7p.m. in the library. We hope that you will join us. Bring something that really "touched" your heart to share with the group (story, poem, letter, picture, etc.)
Damaris, the women's fellowship group will be dining out at Baker's Square in South Elgin on Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30p.m. This is an informal group. We would love to have you join us for dinner and conversation. If you have any questions about this group please contact Lois.
Frog Friday, our youth group for those in kindergarten through 6th grade, will be held on Friday, February 17th 6p.m. - 8:30p.m. The cost is $5 per person if you haven't already paid for the winter sessions. FROG Friday includes dinner, craft, story, music, and games. Our FROGS have been having a hopping good time. Come join us and bring a friend.
FOOTSTEPS OF PAUL
Folks are signing up for Paris' and Penny's trip to Greece and Turkey, but there is plenty of room for you! You will walk the places where the apostle Paul once trod and visit some other sites important to the early church. Athens, Corinth, Philippi, and more - you will see them all. You will cruise the Aegean Sea and stop at places like Patmos (where John wrote the Book of Revelation), then it's on to Ephesus, Antalya, and other sites in Turkey, ending your tour in Istanbul; i.e., ancient Constantinople. Tour price of $3749.00 includes round trip air, 3 day cruise, overnights at 3 & 4 star hotels, entrance to all sites, fully qualified guides, air-conditioned motorcoaches, and many meals. The trip of a lifetime! See Paris or Penny for details and to sign up.
GIFT WRAPPING FOR BACK BAY
Five churches from the Fox Valley Association, including Elgin FCC, wrapped presents during the Christmas season at Spring Hill Mall. A total of $1225.21 was raised and sent to Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Feb. 5 Dennis Turnquist & Nicole Lewellyn
Feb. 12 Andrew Duncan & Keaton Fahnestock
Feb. 19 Phillip Brictson & Emerson Lewis
Feb. 26 Taylor Stark & Nick Kemmler
Annual Meeting Brunch
Join us this Sunday, January 29th, for a hot brunch featuring egg casseroles, hash brown casseroles, fruit, coffee cakes and breads as well as juice, milk and coffee. You won't find a better breakfast anywhere in town. So, plan to come early to the meeting and join us for a nice meal. Free-will donations will benefit the mission trip.
30 Hour Famine
The youth will be participating in a 30 hour famine to raise their awareness of world hunger. This famine will begin after lunch on Friday, February 17th. Yes, that means we will be FASTING - not eating - going hungry for 30 hours. The youth will arrive at 6p.m. on Friday to help with FROG Friday and then stay afterward for our Famine program which will include a lock-in, scavenger hunt for the Food Pantry, and a great variety of activities. Our event will conclude at 6p.m. on Saturday with a dinner. This 30 Hour Famine is open to all of the youth of the church and their friends. Please pick-up a pledge packet and start raising funds for world hunger.
Adult Retreat Time is Just Around the Corner
We hope that you're planning to join us for our annual adult retreat to Pilgrim Park on February 10th and 11th. Rev. Marsha Thomas will be our retreat leader. Our theme for the retreat is Refreshing Your Spirit. We'll gather in the winter beauty at our cozy retreat facility in Princeton, Illinois. The accommodations are "motel-like" and very comfortable. The cost will be $85.00 which will include one night of accommodations, meals and meeting space. Please read the brochure located on the table in the vestibule (or call Lois or Paris) for more information and a registration form.
Moral Obligation Scholarship Loan
Our church is pleased to be able to offer Moral Obligation Scholarship Loans to church members who are taking college classes. These are interest free loans for any age student. Students are allowed to take out a loan of up to $500 per semester. These loans are then repaid to the church after graduation (or as soon as you stop taking classes). This repayment allows funds to be available for future students. With the high cost of education, this loan may not pay for a class, but it may help to cover book costs. For more detailed information and requirements please contact Lois or Pat Calvin.
Are you thinking about attending college, but haven't made up your mind about where? Think about attending a United Church of Christ related college. There are many in the United States. One such college is Elmhurst located in Elmhurst, IL. Elmhurst ranks high among Midwest liberal arts colleges. Students who are members of the United Church of Christ may apply for a United Church of Christ Scholarship. Talk to Lois for more information.
Souper Bowl of Caring
On Sunday, February 5th our church will be participating in the Souper Bowl of caring. Our youth will be taking up a special offering for the hungry in our community. On this Super Bowl Sunday congregations across the United States gather "Souper Bowl" offerings to be given to local soup kitchens. Last year more than 7 million dollars was collected across the USA in just one Sunday. We collected $269.00 at First Congregational. So bring your loose change and/or a dollar or two and we can make a difference.
Chili Luncheon - February 12th
Mark February 12th on your calendar for our Chili Luncheon. The mission trip group is sponsoring a Chili Cook-off after worship on Abe Lincoln's Birthday. It's HONESTLY (you know, Honest Abe) going to be a delicious lunch. We'll be serving everything from Midwestern sweet chili to the Texas hot and spicy chili. There will also be fresh bread and scrumptious desserts. So, come and do the taste test and enjoy a great lunch.
P.S. Do you make a great pot of chili? We're looking for pots of chili - Contact Linda Taylor or Lois if you can make a pot of chili for the lunch.
4's /Kindergarten and 1st Grade
Aiden Garcia Claire Hampton
Alyssa Steffen Anna Halfpenny
Savannah Lile Nicole Steffen
Grace Ann Aldred Abby Garcia
Lauren Powers Drew Rantz
Rachel Ruf Cassidy Sell
2nd & 3rd Grades
Kenzie Fahnestock Matthew Halfpenny
Emilie Kottmeier Madeline Koldos
Max Aldred Chris Leberecht
Maggie Powers Eric Turnquist
Emerson Lewis Taylor Powers
Samantha Kottmeier Cameron Leberecht
A.J. Mitchell Chris Taylor
Dennis Turnquist Anna Mitchell
Cure for "Cabin Fever"
The Cross I'd Players and the Youth Group will be sponsoring and participating in a late winter dinner and entertainment extravaganza on March 11. Get ready for this - there will be a mystery comedy, music, comedy acts, and more for this evening. Proceeds will go to the Mission Trip. Anyone who would like to participate can contact John Kauffman or any of the Cross I'd Players - email firstname.lastname@example.org
ChristCare Groups Grow!
WOW! We have eleven different ChristCare groups in our church. These groups are not just for our members but for anyone who would like to participate. For each of the groups there is fellowship, fun, community building, prayer and worship, some Bible study and missional outreach. These groups have particular purposes and interests so review what they offer and see which one you might be interested in joining.
Last year, we had 68 people involved in the groups, and since some were in more than one ChristCare groups, group membership was over 75. The ChristCare leaders met recently and as we tallied our membership, we counted 91 people. As we examined the membership, our count is 80 individuals with some involved in up to three different groups - and three new groups will form this season. That means that when you are in worship or other church activities, someone near you is involved in ChristCare.
ChristCare groups meet at the convenience of the members, and most groups are open to new members. Elsewhere in this issue you will find some articles about the groups. Review the titles and the leaders of each of the groups, and feel free to contact the leader and learn their schedule. Be part of this spiritually uplifting, caring program in our church. Invite friends and acquaintances to come and join us so they can learn our commitment: "Our church is a Christian covenant community exclusively devoted to Jesus Christ and inclusively committed to God's unconditional grace. In joy and gratitude we live out the call of Christ to worship God, make disciples, support one another, and share God's extravagant welcome."
Consider one of these or contact anyone in ChristCare to learn how to become trained as a leader to start your own group. We have Movie Maniacs-Ron Reuter, Crafty Christians-Marilyn Kauffman, Cross I'd Players-John Kauffman, Writers in the Storm-Gina Green, Pray It Isn't So-Janet Aldred, Exploring our Path-Jodie Stackowiak, Opening Doors (to the Bible)-Roger Dieringer, "Son"shine readers-Patti Scroggins, Beginnings (an overview of ChristCare)-Ron and Liz Schaaf, the Key o'Life-Beth Iverson or (take a deep breath) Quiet Moments-Pat Lindquist - ChristCare is here for you.
Pick up a ChristCare brochure and contact any of the leaders for a terrific experience with ChristCare-a circle of care with Christ at the center. We know that God is still speaking here at First Congregational United Church of Christ . . what do you say to that call?
You know that our ChristCare leaders have been trained by equippers, Pastors Paris and Lois, and John Kauffman. These three are among more than 3,000 pastors, church staff, and lay leaders who have been trained as Equippers. These Equippers have trained more than 20,000 ChristCare Small Group Leaders. Tens of thousands of people have grown in community and discipleship as members of ChristCare Small Groups. And here in our church, 91 persons are involved in our eleven different ChristCare groups led by twelve trained leaders. WOW!
Dinner and a Movie
Movie Maniacs is off to a great start. We have already met four times and have watched such movies as The Count of Monte Cristo and Secondhand Lions. We have right around twenty members, never all at once though. Steve and Collen have hosted some and so have the Aldreds. If you care to stop in for one just to check it out give me a call. Ron Reuter. We are an open group so give me a call and stop by sometime. God Bless
The ChristCare Boutique: Looking Backward - Looking Forward
The transition from one year to the next is often a time to reflect on the past year's events and then to look forward to our hopes and dreams for the future. This is certainly true for the ChristCare Boutique. This project came about as a missional outreach of the "New Members" ChristCare group made up of members Ron & Karen Carlson, Pat Lindquist, Mark & Mary Hartwig, and led by Ron & Liz Schaaf.
Since its debut in October of 2004, there have been eight "sessions" at the church, as well as one at the home of Ron & Karen Carlson, generating a total of $2,115 that has been donated to the Adult Program of The Larkin Center. There's a great feeling in having been part of something worthwhile like this (that's one definition of joy, isn't it?), and we'd like to thank all the patrons of the Boutique. It couldn't have happened without you, and we hope that you, too, can sense the grace and blessing that runs through such endeavors.
Now what about looking forward? Well, the "New Members" aren't really new anymore and have started moving on to other ChristCare groups and ministries here at FCC. With this will come a transition of the Boutique into Karen's Corner. Karen Carlson - our world-class shopper - will be continuing to provide quality items at great prices, just a smaller selection of them. And there's more interesting news: the beneficiary of this new enterprise will be the reduction of the church debt!
The first appearance of Karen's Corner will be Sunday, February 12th, from 9:00am - 12:30pm in the library. The selection expected at this time will consist of a variety of gift items, including baby items and gifts for Valentine's Day. And don't forget, the Chili Luncheon is that day!
Writers in the Storm
We have all agreed that journaling helps us appreciate our lives--the joyous moments and the challenging life lessons. Please join us for our next meeting. It will be at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7, in the church library.
Quiet Moments, our Christ Care Spirituality group will be meeting during the Lenten season. We will be meeting on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Our first meeting will be on Wednesday evening March 8, 2006 meeting every week and concluding on Wednesday, April 12, 2006.
This will be an open group. What that means is individuals are welcome to come one time or all six weeks depending on what your schedule allows. For more information contact Pat Lindquist
In 2005 Golden Years made 1573 cancer pads to be distributed by visiting nurses. We need clean, used sheets (any color) mattress pads, quilts, towels, blankets (including electric), fabric, and yarn for our knitters. As you plan your spring cleaning keep us in mind. Thanks to those that have contributed in the past.
--Any questions? Contact Margarete Schmoldt
Christ Center Community
Be a Sweetheart - Help us out
The Beginnings ChristCare Group is sponsoring a mission project to benefit the Community Crisis Center which provides shelter for victims of domestic abuse and their children.
On February 5, 12 & 19, 2006 boxes will be placed outside the church office for collection of donations.
We would like to concentrate on medical supplies, toiletries, baby food and disposable diapers. All medical supplies must be new, sealed and with current dates. They do not accept medications or mouthwash with alcohol. A listing of items follows:
Allergy Medication (liquid Benadryl)
Cough syrup and drops
Adult Sinus Medication
Hair care products - (also for African American women:
Soft Sheen (by Carsen)
Wide tooth combs)
Feminine hygiene products
Hand and body lotion
(especially large & extra large)
Your donations will be greatly appreciated by those using the shelter.
Contacts: Walt and Carol Kilmanas
Sue Smith, Kyle Hetrich
Special Opportunity for:
Friends of Church World Service/CROP
in the greater Elgin area!
"Giving Hope" in Rwanda
February 7, 2006, at 7:00 p.m.
First Congregational Church of Elgin
256 E. Chicago Street
We are very pleased to have an opportunity to share one of the leaders in the CWS effort to assist orphaned children in Africa, Ms. Epiphanie Mujawimana of Rwanda, Africa, who will be visiting in this area.
Epiphanie Mujawimana is the Program Director for the Rwanda YWCA. In this capacity, she oversees the "Giving Hope" program, which is empowering orphaned heads of households (OHH) affected by HIV/AIDS. With the help of funding from Church World Service, "Giving Hope" is organizing orphans into small groups who engage in income generation, health education (including outreach to other youth on the risks of HIV), psychosocial care, and planning to achieve future goals.
Youngsters enrolled in "Giving Hope" can become basic household income-sufficient in two years with funding of only $250-$350 per year per OHH, in a holistic program that includes basic health inputs, training, advocacy for rights, etc. It has been hailed for its emphasis on respect, community building, and self-reliance.
Since its inception in 2003, the program has grown from an initial outreach to 220 households in Rwanda alone, to expansion to more than 7,000 households including pilots in Tanzania, Uganda, and recently, Kenya. Based on "peer learning" concepts, the "Giving Hope" program has been recognized for its innovation and "best practices" in two upcoming publications--one published by the Firelight Foundation and the second by UNICEF.
Epiphanie, accompanied by Linda Robbins, CWS Director of Corporate Gifts, will present an in-depth slide presentation taking us through the birth, challenges, successes and future of the "Giving Hope" Project in Rwanda.
Please visit www.churchworldservice.org/africainitiative/hivsupport.html for more information on this long-term successful project. And, please join us at the First Congregational Church on February 7th!!
Please RSVP: Call the CWS Regional Office @ 1-888-297-2767
New Beginnings ChristCare
The New Beginnings ChristCare Group has been meeting over the past several months. There are 7 members in the current group. The session course has covered ChristCare principles such as community building, biblical equipping, listening with care, communicating more effectively, and missional service. The group is in the process of completing their mission project, which is to supply goods to the Crisis Center.
Ron and Liz Schaaf
Pray It Isn't So
Pray It Isn't So is a prayer group that meets twice per month here at the church. It is a comfortable, low key group that welcomes participants! Please plan to join us. We meet on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month in the library at 11:30. Participants bring their lunch and "check-in" while we eat. Then we get down to business and pray. We adjourn at 12:30. If you work in the area, perhaps you can arrange your lunch hour to join us. If you can't be with us, please feel free to send your prayer concerns to Janet Aldred at Janet@JQDesigns.com. We will gladly add your concerns to our list.
Attention Scrapbook Enthusiasts
It has come to my attention that we have a fairly large group of scrap-bookers here at FCC. Please contact Janet Aldred if you would be interested in forming a scrap-booking group. Perhaps if there is enough interest, we can start a group. Janet at Janet@JQDesigns.com.