ADVENT VESPERS SERVICE
Everybody talks about "putting Christ back in Christmas," but here at FCC you have the opportunity to do something about it, at least for a little while. On Sunday evening, December 3rd, the first Sunday of Advent, at 6:00 we will celebrate the real reason for the season with our third annual Advent Vespers service. This beautiful time of worship will present music by the choirs and handbells interspersed with readings appropriate to the season by the pastors. This is our opportunity to witness to our culture that Advent isn't a time for conspicuous consumption, but is, instead, a time for reflecting on the incredible gift of God in Christ. You say you can't spare the time to attend this service? All the more reason why you need to come. See you on the 3rd at 6:00.
Here are your opportunities to gather information about the proposed renovation and listen for the voice of God guiding our decision here at FCC:
Question & Answer Sessions
Someone from the Long Range Planning Committee will be available in the vestibule after the 8:15 service, and in the fellowship hall after the 10:15 service, to answer questions and hear your joys and/or concerns each Sunday except December 24 & 31.
"40 Days of Discernment"
Beginning December 6, prayer services will be held each Wednesday night (except December 27) at 7:00 in the chapel. In addition, the chapel will be available each Sunday 9:15 - 10:15 for individual prayer.
BREAKFAST WITH THE BIBLE
December brings a wide variety of choices for spiritual and personal growth each Sunday morning. Beginning at 9:00 breakfast is served for you and your family. Juice, fruit, milk, cereals, pastries, and coffee are available. Then settle in for one of several class options. Child care is available for your young ones after they have eaten breakfast.
Option #1: The Long-winded Savior: An in-depth study of the Gospel of John. Bring your Bible and join in a verse by verse examination of the fourth Gospel. The class is discovering some fascinating perspectives in this account of Jesus' ministry.
Option #2: Anticipating a New Birth of Christ. This year's Advent study, beginning on December 3, will be led by UCC minister Gene Birmingham. The Gospel of John announced that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This class will examine how the Word made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth can become flesh again in our 21st century world.
Option #3: Wellness Tools for the Holidays (December 10 only). This monthly installment of our new "Help! I Need Somebody" series will examine ways to cope with holiday stress. (For more information see the article on page 10.)
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!
On October 29th these new members were received into our church family:
Pat and Heather Arnold
Sponsors: Mike and Lori Kemmler
Pat was born and raised in McHenry. After high school he did a 5 year union electrician apprenticeship. He currently works for IBEW Local 117 as an electrician/foreman, serving all of McHenry County and nine other northern Kane County townships. He enjoys playing golf, reading and traveling. Heather is a native of Woodstock. She was educated at Northern Arizona University where she received a degree in Public Relations and Advertising. She is employed at the Lake Geneva School of Cooking where she helps with the school's daily functions and the retail store as well as assisting with their marketing and advertising. Heather enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, swimming, photography, and tennis. Pat and Heather have no children at the present time, but they do have a dog named Eden.
Michael Blackwood and Adam McCoy
Sponsors: Dennis and Deb Leberecht
Mike was born in Long Beach and grew up in southern California. He received a B.A. in Communication from Regis University in Denver, Colorado and is currently working on a graduate degree from Gonzaga University. He works in sales and customer service at McMaster-Carr Industrial Supply, and in his spare time enjoys traveling, singing, and theater. Adam was born and raised in Hastings, Nebraska. He received a B.A. from the University of Denver and is currently pursuing an MBA at Walden University. Adam is employed by United Airlines as a Senior Generalist in Human Resources. He enjoys traveling, fine wine, cooking, and exploring the internet.
Sponsor: Sandy Dalton
Jane was born, raised, and educated in Arkansas. Currently she is employed by Charles Industries in Rolling Meadows where she works in the facilities department, mailroom, sales department, and keeps up files on the computer. She even takes a turn or two operating the switchboard. Jane has two children - Tommy Wayne Busby (48) and Angela Kay Krause (45) - and ten grandchildren. She enjoys crafts and is learning how to make quilts.
Sponsors: Ethan and Jodi Peterson
Angela (Angie) was born and raised in Lisbon, Ohio. She is employed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals in the buyer/purchasing department. She has two daughters - our own Jodi Peterson (30) and Teri Turschman (25). Angie likes to read, watch TV, exercise, and take walks.
Sponsor: Charles Rantz
John is a native of Chicago and Arlington Heights. He attended Marquette University and works now as a software engineer at Motorola. John has a daughter, Rebecca (29), and enjoys music and photography.
To our Family at The First Congregational Church,
Today, our wedding day, October 28th, Colleen and I are so thankful for our love & having been brought together. For two such wonderful families; together at last!
You, who have shared our joys, our sorrows, and the rest of our lives, are truly a blessing from God. At every turn, our FCC family has prayed for us, welcomed us, supported us and given us peace.
To be loved like this is a greater gift than either of us imagined.
From both our hearts,
Steve & Colleen Stauffacher
Margaret Schmoldt was hospitalized at St. Joseph's for a series of tests to determine the cause of severe nausea, fatigue, and pain in her legs. Results of the tests were
inconclusive, but a new medication seems to be providing her with a little relief.
Rowena Swan passed out and fell during a shopping excursion. After a brief stay in the hospital she is home now.
Betty Ells continues to have chemotherapy treatments at Edward Hospital in Naperville. She is staying with her son in Bolingbrook.
Shirley May Byrnes fell at work and suffered injuries to her face and foot. She is recuperating at home.
Olaf Iverson, Jeff Iverson's father, suffered a heart attack and is not doing well.
Steve Stauffacher and Colleen Jennings were united in marriage on October 28. Pastors Paris and Lois led the ceremony in
12/01 Eleanor MacKinney
12/01 Marissa Lewellyn
12/04 David Duncan
12/05 Lisa Boan
12/06 Caitlin Iverson
12/08 Katie Sharf
12/08 Mateo Castillo
12/09 Angel Tippett
12/10 Michael Blackwood
12/11 Betty Ells
12/11 Brailey Kerber
12/17 Ruth Hanchette
12/17 Anne Marie Mitchell
12/18 Tim Bayler
12/20 Mark Hartwig
12/21 James Jocius
12/21 Dorothy Schock
12/21 Kelcey Evans
12/24 JoAnn Brictson
12/25 Jeff Iverson
12/25 Katelyn Hargrave
12/26 Rachel Turner
12/26 Hanna Brictson
12/27 Carole A. Kilmanas
12/27 Brynn Addison Kerber
12/28 Judy Steffen
12/28 Erin Powell
12/29 Ben Brictson
12/30 Gail Yauch
12/31 Nicholas Stackowiak
We are beginning to make plans for our annual Sunday School Christmas Program on Sunday, December 17th. We want all of the children to participate so please mark this date on your calendar now before it fills with other holiday activities.
This year's program is called "The Advent Tree." The program will include traditional Christmas Carols as well as readings about the symbols of Advent. We plan to distribute song sheets so that families can practice these during the week, so watch for them to come home from Sunday School.
It is really important that your child be here each week to practice. Parts will be assigned during the next couple of Sundays. We will have a practice after church on Sunday, December 10th for an hour and on Saturday, December 16th, 12:00 noon -2:00 pm. If you have any questions, or can volunteer to help, please call Deb Sell, Beth Mitchell, Deb Leberecht or Lois.
Perfect Attendance for October
We are encouraging the children to be present each week in Sunday School. Their regular attendance makes it easier for them to learn about our faith without gaps in their learning. We want to recognize these people for perfect attendance during the month of October: Ben Brictson, Phillip Brictson, David Gerber, Lindsay Iverson, and Olivia Munson. Congratulations! We hope that more children will try to be present each week. We will be recognizing perfect attendance for November in the next newsletter.
Just a reminder that FROG Friday will NOT be meeting during the month of December. WE will resume our FROG (Friends Relying on God) Friday program on the third Friday in January, which is January 19th 6:00- 8:30 p.m. The payment of $15.00 for the winter sessions (Jan. Feb. and Mar.) will be due at that time. The cost includes dinner, craft, story, and games.
There will be an informational meeting about the 2007 mission trip on Sunday, November 19th in the Library immediately following church. Come and hear about the plans for our trip which is scheduled for June 23 - July 1st. Registrations and a non-refundable deposit of $75 are due by January 21st.
Join us for a hot soup and bread luncheon following church on December 3rd sponsored by the Mission Trip group. This luncheon will cost $5 and will include a variety of homemade soups and breads as well as yummy desserts. Please come for lunch and support our
mission trip group's efforts to raise funds for the Summer 2007 trip. Make your reservations using the form in this newsletter.
The winter Youth Retreat is planned for Martin Luther King weekend, January 12-14, 2007 at Pilgrim Park. We will leave Elgin at 5:30p.m., and return late Sunday afternoon (no school on Monday!). Details and information will be mailed home in early December, so watch for them. This will be a great weekend of fellowship, fun, and food. Save the date now!
Our annual adult retreat to Pilgrim Park Church Camp will be held on February 9th and 10th. This is a refreshing winter get-away weekend. Rev. Bob Wang, who is a pastor in Wisconsin, will be our retreat leader. Bob is a guitar player and experienced retreat leader. This retreat is sure to be a rewarding experience. (Some of you will remember Bob from his lead role in the Cotton Patch Gospel performance we went to see in Antioch two years ago).
The plan is to leave Elgin about 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening and return late on Saturday afternoon. We'll gather in the winter beauty at our cozy retreat facility, which is in Princeton, IL. 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. You'll be asked to bring a snack to share. Watch for a brochure with registration information and more details. However, please mark the date on your calendar now so that you can participate. You may turn in a deposit of $50 now to reserve your space. This will assure that you will get one of the nicest rooms in the retreat facility. Please make the checks payable to the church. Scholarships are available, so please do not let the cost keep you from participating. Please talk to Lois or Paris if you have a financial need (it will be kept confidential). Any questions????? Please feel free to talk to Lois or Paris about this retreat.
Let's enjoy the holidays this year by bringing some holiday cheer to some of our older members. We will gather as a church family on Sunday, afternoon December 17th at 4:00 p.m. This tradition has become a favorite of both young and old (and not so old) as we all get in the Christmas spirit. We will carpool around Elgin, stopping at the homes of many of our long-time members to sing a few carols and then we will return to the church between 6:30 and 7:00 for some hot chocolate, a warm sandwich and some Christmas cookies. Please use the sign-up sheet on the insert in this issue of Church Life to let us know that you will be joining us.
Christmas Cookies for Shut-ins
When you are doing your baking this year for the holidays would you consider making a couple of dozen homemade cookies/bars (of one kind) for the church to deliver to those homes we visit when we go caroling? We will make plates of assorted cookies from the variety that we receive. We will not be baking any at church this year, so we really need your donations.
We need your Help!
Please join us anytime after 8:00 am Saturday morning December 2nd
for the "Hanging of the Greens" in the Sanctuary. Refreshments will be served.
Join our tradition of fun and fellowship on Saturday December 9th anytime after 8:00 am. Help us transform our beautiful sanctuary for Christmas. Breakfast will be served.
A Women's Celebration
The women of the church are invited to a wonderful holiday evening on Thursday, December 14th. Our Christmas Celebration of Women will begin with a pizza dinner in the conference room. ($7.00 per person will cover the cost of pizza.) Following dinner we will be entertained by the Blue Tulip Wranglers (Paris and friends) singing Christmas tunes and other favorites. Come join the fun.
Come From Under the Christmas Tree
When my children were growing up, we belonged to a church that had a
Christmas Day Service called, "Come From Under the Christmas Tree." At
the time, we lived in Michigan away from family and this became a very
important part of our Christmas traditions.
This year, you and
your family are invited to come from under your Christmas tree and join
me in celebrating Jesus' birthday. Dress is casual and children are
even allowed to come in their pajamas. Each person, adult or child, is
asked to bring one gift that they received and we will share with one
another what made that particular gift special. The service includes an
opportunity to sing carols, hear the Christmas story, hear a brief
message and celebrate Jesus' birthday.
I am looking for
volunteers to help with the service. If you would like to be a reader,
sing, or share your musical talent either on the piano or a guitar
please talk to me at church or leave a message for me.
The service will be Christmas Day at 10:15 in the chapel.
We have participated in all five of the special UCC offerings, designating us as a FIVE FOR FIVE church. The next opportunity for us to make a special offering will be in December for the Christmas Fund for needy ordained UCC pastors and their families. Here are some facts about the Fund's benefits.
- Some form of UCC Ministerial Assistance to approximately 1,400 persons during calendar year 2006.
- Christmas Gift Checks, which are scheduled to be given to 828 persons in 2006. Of those who will receive checks, 24 are over 100 years of age. The 828 gifts will total $228,250.
- Monthly pension supplementation to 578 persons, totaling $100,079 per month. A significant part of this total comes from the Christmas Fund.
- Quarterly health premium supplementation to 306 persons, totaling $154,298 per quarter.
- Emergency Grants to 42 individuals/families, which totaled $59,560 in the first six months of 2006. It is estimated that 60-70 persons will receive an Emergency Grant by year-end.
The "mercury" has slowly risen on the "thermometer" in the narthex of our educational building. It has been measuring the congregation's efforts to DEFEAT THE DEFICIT in our church budget. About $17,000 will put us over the top. Members of the "Crafty Christians" are challenging all of us to make a generous end of the year gift over and above our regular pledge to meet the goal. Will you help?
An envelope is enclosed with this mailing. When you bring it with your contribution of any size to the coffee hour on the next two Sundays, someone from "Crafty Christians" will be there to give you a special "gift."
The Crafty Christians have been really crafty lately! We made and sold beautiful cornucopia centerpieces and are currently working on ornaments using a photo of the stained glass rose window in our church. By the way, we still have a few centerpieces left if anyone is interested. They make really nice "hostess gifts" if your happen to be going to someone else's house for Thanksgiving.
The holiday season is upon us and we are looking forward to contributing to the beauty of the season.
The Comma Group
Listening for God
"All I did was listen. For I believe full surely that God's spirit is in us all..(Julian of Norwich 1342-1417)" A ChristCare group focused on listening for God in today's often noisy world will meet bi-weekly from November 14, 2006 through March 20th 2007. Discover God's presence through listening experiences with others. The group will be using: The Stillspeaking Bible Study (UCC); the contemporary short story series, "Listening for God" (Augsburg Press); and quiet reflection. God is still speaking, join us in listening. The Comma Group: Listening for God begins meeting on November 14th @ 6:45 - 8:00 PM at First Congregational Church/UCC in the Library. November meetings are: November 14th & 28th. December meeting is December 12th. Sandy Taenzer is the ChristCare leader. Please contact her at sandrataenzer[at]sbcglobal[dot]net for further information or questions. Come and join our group!
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."-Proverbs 25:11. We write and read all sorts of words that are inspired by spirit. Please join our group on the third Tuesday of the month. We meet in the church Library at 4:00 p.m. Please contact Gina Orazi Green and let us hear your written thoughts.
A group of thumbs up and thumbs down folks meets the first Friday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Our location varies. A member chooses a film and we sit and watch and give our signs after the showing. Please contact Gina Orazi Green if your would like to join us.
Help, I Need Somebody!!!
Due to an overwhelming response to the Mental Health Ministry, we will meet on the 2nd Sunday of the month in the library from 9:15 - 10:00 am
The focus will be on Recovery from Mental Illness & Education topics:
Dec. 10th - Wellness Tools for the Holidays
Whether you are dealing with a mental illness, a family member or friend who is, or you are someone in need of a new approach in handling the stress of the holidays, imagine feeling EMOTIONALLY prepared. We spend an immeasurable amount of time preparing for the holiday season by shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking. How much time do we spend preparing by caring for our mental health? So often we put such tremendous pressures on ourselves to be at every party, to say "yes" to all requests, to not disappoint. Inevitably, we often sacrifice our own needs.
When living with a mental illness we need to recognize the importance of self-care. We need to be in tune with our abilities and our limitations and have a plan, a set of "Wellness Tools*" to which we can turn. These are things we can do to help ourselves stay well or things we can do to help ourselves feel better when we're not doing well. Having time to relax, exercise, participate in support groups, practice clear communication, these are just a few tools which we might consider. Every person's list of "tools" will be specific to his or her own needs. For me personally, the idea of being proactive and knowing I can care for myself mentally through a time of year that has time and time again been too difficult, gives me hope. It gives me energy. It gives me strength.
I look forward to seeing you on the 10th and I pray God will walk with us on this journey.
A quote from Rosaylynn Carter:
"People with mental problems are our
neighbors. They are members of our
congregations, members of our families; they are everywhere in this country.
If we ignore their cries for help, we will be
continuing to participate in the anguish from
which those cries for help come. A problem
of this magnitude will not go away. Because
it will not go away, and because of our
spiritual commitments, we are compelled to
*Wellness Tools are a part of Mary Ellen Copeland's WRAP program. You can find more information about WRAP at www.mentalhealthrecovery.com or by contacting Pat Lindquist.
Last Sunday, we consecrated our gifts by turning in our estimates of giving. We truly became receivers who give. If you were not here, please turn in your pledge cards this week or next week. If you have lost your card, misplaced it, thrown it out, or your dog ate it, there are extras in the pews or call the church office and one will be mailed to you.
Please do not put this off. The Finance Ministry will be meeting soon to formulate next year's budget and we would like to have some concrete numbers with which to work so please prayerfully consider your faithful financial commitment to the church.
To update you on what has been given so far; we have received 69 estimates of giving for a total of $156,736 which averages $2,265 per pledge which is very good. Thank you all who have made your commitment. To those of you who haven't, our budget for the last year was $340,000, which means we are less than half-way to last years budget.
We need your help. We need you to take a leap of faith. Please turn in your estimate of giving card today. We still need the members who have pledged in the past and who haven't done so this year, as yet. The important thing is to fill out that card and be counted among those who are making a financial commitment to everything exciting that is happening here at First Congregational. Next year promises to be a wonderful year. You who have pledged are already a part of it, and those of you who give are a part of it as well!
There will be exciting challenges coming in the next year as we watch the "still speaking" God at work!
Blessings to you all,
Ministry of Stewardship Chair