We are switching to our regular worship hours on Sunday, September 17. Worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a coffee hour after worship. Sunday School/Bible Study will also begin for the 2023-2024 school year meeting at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday.
Back in April we were notified of the service project at this year’s General Synod to be held in Indianapolis June 28 through July 4th. If we raised $250, we could apply for a $250 UCC kits matching grant. We raised $350, applied and received the grant.
Each kit contained two 2 oz. bottles hand sanitizer, three 4-galon bathroom trash bags, one travel pack of Wet ones, ten unscented tampons ( 5 regular and 5 super), ten unscented sanitary napkins, one bath size bar of soap, one pack of flushable wipes, and six laundry detergent sheets.
Several ladies from the church got together on June 28th and put together 57 kits! Once they were completed, we delivered them to a delegate from another church in our area who took them to Indy.
UCC surpassed their 1,000 goal and 3,157 kits were put together!
We held a painting party fundraising event on June 14th. The painters could chose between creating on canvas or painting on a tote bag.
The money raised will go to Churches United’s Thanksgiving in July for local food pantries! We were assigned the Friendly House in Davenport.
Great job, ladies!
I want to thank you so very much for the time you are gifting me for my upcoming Sabbatical. It is my deepest prayer that you know how much I love you. I couldn’t have imagined the blessings that continue to be showered on me (and my family) because of you.
Starting June 5, I will not be the person you contact if you need something for the church. Jill Pepper will be that person for June and July, and then depending on what you need, there will be a few people to contact for the month of August. (We will have that in the next newsletter.) I will return to the office on September 5.
Before I leave, I want to touch on a couple of things. I know that there is a lot going on within the life of Faith UCC. Your pastor will be gone for 13 weeks; and we are still in conversation with First Christian to figure out how we can share ministry. Both of these things are beginning to create some very high emotions—fear, grief, and anger for sure, but also excitement and joy.
Change is scary. Period. Not knowing what comes next in life leaves us feeling vulnerable, and believe me, I don’t like that feeling any more than you do.
So, let’s start with the Sabbatical. Please know that I am not leaving you for 13 weeks on your own. I am sure there is something I will forget to plan for, but I hope that most of whatever might come up will have a plan, or a person to contact. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE ALONE! You all still have one another! The idea for this time is for me to find rest and to return to you renewed and filled with new passion and fire. But this time is also for you—so that you can dive into the life of this wonderful church, and find your renewed passion and fire. Then, when we come back together, we can forge a new future with God’s love and light leading our way.
As for sharing ministry. Again, I refer to the above paragraph “Change is scary.” But change is inevitable, and if we allow ourselves to be open and dream, change can be amazing! I really don’t have any idea what “change” is going to look like for us, but there will be something. There always is! This is the time for us to explore new things, dream big dreams, and PRAY—asking that God guide us on this journey, not for our will, but for God’s will to be done.
I need to ask you a favor: please don’t stop talking to me about these events in our lives. I know we might not agree on everything, nor should we—that is how we hold one another accountable, and allow for balance. If we shut down and stop talking to each other, the change that will happen will not be healthy. Honest, open, and transparent communication with one another is the only way we can move forward toward God’s will. Dealing with emotion is really hard, so in this time and space, I pray we will offer one another grace, and much patience.
Friends, we are walking this journey together, and I wouldn’t want to walk with anyone other than all of you. I love you so much.
~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). ~ John 20:16
Here today! Gone tomorrow! The snow we just got, that is. Wasn’t it BEAUTIFUL??? Of course, our pine tree, like many others around town that I have seen, didn’t like it as well as I did. I hope everyone was careful if they had to shovel! That was some heavy stuff!
Unfortunately, I was not able to shovel, as I am working on a back/leg issue. I want to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers, and your patience as I work to heal. I have learned a few things: I am a MUCH better care giver than care receiver; I have reached the age that it will take me longer to heal than I would like, so I am better understanding some of the frustration that many of you have felt in your lives; and I have the most loving and giving husband and son! They have taken such good care of me, and sacrificed so much so they could care for me, putting my needs before their school and work, and other activities. THANK YOU DAVID AND KARSTEN!
Now, that being said, I want to let you know that we will NOT be having an online worship service on Good Friday, as I was only able to work on so much while I was laid up.
HOWEVER, I want to invite you to our Maundy Thursday supper/worship on Thursday, April 6 in the Fellowship Hall at 6:00 p.m. We will enjoy our meal together, as we hear the final stages of Jesus life through prayer and scripture, and share a piece of ourselves with one another throughout the evening. Whether you have joined us before now or not, I pray you are able to be there on this special night.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Easter schedule on page 3. Have a most blessed week!
~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi
“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creating that had been done..” ~ Genesis 2:3
There is so much happening here at Faith UCC, and all of it is exciting!
First, our conversations with First Christian are going well. At times it feels like we are ready for the next step, and then there are other times that it feels very overwhelming. Bringing two churches together to be one is hard work, but so exciting. If you are unable to make it to our Q and A sessions following worship (our next one is Sunday, February 26), please feel free to ask anyone on the committee your questions, or just share your thoughts. Committee members include Mark Christy, Amy Dowell, Cheryl Leamer, and Jill Pepper.
Second, the time for my Sabbatical is coming quickly! Just like our conversations with First Christian, this comes with both the stress of making sure everything is in place and covered while I am gone, as well as the excitement of three months to rest my weary body, mind and spirit!
I know many of you have questions around this, and we will talk more over the next couple of months. Here is a brief rundown of what my plans are—albeit there are several things still up in the air!
June 4—The last Sunday before Sabbatical. We will hold a blessing during worship, and a reception following.
June 5—September 4—My Sabbatical
June 5—June 11—State Trap Meet in Cedar Falls, Iowa
June 12—June 28—We hope to be camping at West Lake. This allows us to be close to home for David and Karsten if they need something, but for me to be away from the church. Living right next door creates a unique problem for me, as I can see everything that goes on through my living room window. In order for this to truly be effective, I need to break away for a while.
June 29—July 4—General Synod in Indianapolis, IN (I am an Iowa Conference delegate)
July 5—August 10—I have 3 trips planned, but we are still trying to work out dates with those I am going to see, as well as flight details. I plan to visit my parents and sister and brother-in-law in West Palm Beach, Florida for 2 weeks, visit friends in Elko, NV for 10 days, and vacation with the family in Montana to see Jarrod.
August 11—September 4—I will return home and spend time on projects I would like to finish around the house, along with spending time with a friend on her flower farm!
September 5—I will return to the office.
September 10—My first Sunday back. We will have a lunch following worship, and I will show pictures and talk about what I did, and you will share what you did!
Every day I will spend time in prayer and meditation, as well as journaling. I am nervous about that, because I am not good at it—but that is part of the process! Your job will be to get to know the members of First Christian better by holding conversations, playing, praying, or whatever you come up with! Then when we get back together, we will look to the future! I know this unknown is scary for some, but in the end, the rest that we all take will be rewarded and blessed by God.
June 5—August 5—Jill Pepper will lead worship and be on call. She will be in the office M-TH 9—Noon.
August 6—September 4—I will let you know who will be leading worship and on call.
I will have a list out for volunteering in the next couple of weeks, so please watch for that. Again, I know you have lots of questions, and I will try to address more here next month. Otherwise, please feel free to contact me to ask!
~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi
“Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down; they cannot rise; they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” ~ Isaiah 43:16-19
We met with the combined Faith UCC/First Christian DOC committee on Monday, January 16 for the first time. It was a good, and emotional meeting. I expect most of our conversations are going to lean to the emotional side. We thought it would be best for me not to report on the meeting—please see Cheryl Leamer’s Notes from the Council Chair on page 2 for those details. Rather, I am going to be your spiritual guide through this process. Sometimes when we let emotion get the better of us, we need someone to center us, get us back on track. That will be my role.
First, what we are doing is called Shared Ministry, which we are already doing. We not only share space, but we have shared our missions and ministries over the last year—Share-A-Meal, Lenten gatherings, Sunday Bible Study and Sunday School, special services, Trunk or Treat, to name a few. What our “shared ministry” will look like in the future, has yet to be determined.
If you haven’t already, I invite you to read the scripture above. “Do not remember the former things…..I am about to do a new thing….” I honestly believe that what God is telling us is NOT to forget our pasts, but rather, to forget the “way things have always been done.” Clearly, those no longer work for us. It is time to honor our past, while not allowing it to get in the way of our future. Easier said than done, I know.
The past can be nostalgic. With nostalgia comes emotion. Throw in some tradition that moves us, or is rooted deeply within us, and when those things are in danger of changing, we begin to get defensive. But God is doing something new. God is taking two churches, who are not able to go it alone much longer, and making a stronger church; a united church; a united people. God is removing the division from two churches of two different denominations and calling us to show the world (at least our little corner of it!) that one by one, it can be done. We can be united. We can, and are called, to be ONE Body in Christ.
How will this look? Again, this question can cause an emotional uprising. Some want it one way, some the other. Some want one thing, some want another. And back and forth, until nothing is settled.
But there is another way. In reality, it is the only way which will work. That is by keeping God at the center at all times. This calls for courage, patience, listening to understand one another, loving one another (even when we don’t want to), but most importantly, the way through to that new thing God is creating is for us to remember WHY we are church. We must keep our eyes focused on the mission and ministries we are being called toward— some of which we have never heard of yet!
While we follow God, keeping God at the center, I want us to remember a couple of things:
1) Shared Ministry is about innovation, unification, expanding, support, and working together.
2) What Shared Ministry is NOT, is survival. If we are doing this for survival purposes—whether for human resources, or (and maybe especially) financial resources, then we might as well stop now. If that is our focus, then shared ministry will not work.
So, I ask you—no, I challenge you—to pray that we keep God at the center at all times; for open ears, eyes, hearts, and minds; for wisdom; for courage; and most of all, for God to continue to be guide in this process. Because with God—EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
2022 has only a couple of days left, and the new year begins. With a new year, comes all kinds of new opportunities.
First, after 13 months of prayer and discernment, First Christian has heard, and is listening to God’s voice, and asked Faith to join them in conversation to merge our two churches. Council has approved moving forward with these conversations. This is a very exciting time for everyone, while at the same time, may be somewhat scary. We have no idea what this means yet, or how things will look. There are so many questions, and no doubt there are many concerns. Will we stay UCC? Will we be DOC? Will we be both? Will we be neither? (All four of these are options!) What will we call ourselves? Who will be our pastor? And no doubt, so many, many more.
Council has given authority to the committee, which was put together when we first entertained the idea of First Christian moving into the building, to meet with First Christian’s folks starting in January. We will begin by putting some sort of plan and time line into place which will involve open conversations with each of the congregations, and with them together. If you have questions, please let me know. At this point, I can’t promise that I can answer much more than I am telling you here until we get into the process, but I am all ears! The members of the committee are Mark Christy, Amy Dowell, and Jill Pepper.
In the meantime, I invite you to start writing down your thoughts and questions, as well as your creative ideas. If you are like me, I have notes everywhere! That way, you are ready for when the time comes to address them.
Please know, dearest friends, that if this is God’s plan for our journey, it will be done with God at the center, and will be done together.
The other is that I am taking my Rest and Renewal from June 5—September 3. I will be back in the office on September 4. This is 13 weeks instead of 12, as I will be attending the UCC General Synod as an Iowa Conference Delegate June 30—July 4, so I will be working one week.
Jill Pepper will be covering for me for part of the time—June and July. August is yet to be determined. We will know for sure by the end of January. This too, could be a time that is nerve-racking. But please know, this is a time for me to rest and get some of my energy back. I am going to do a little traveling to visit family, and do some reading, a little crafting, and spend time in meditation and prayer practices each day. Ultimately, I will be doing things which bring my heart joy.
We have so much to be thankful for, and there are so many blessings coming our way! Thank you, 2022, for all you have given us. Welcome 2023!!
~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi