Please join us for a VERY special Sunday worship when Madison Montroy and Kaylie O'Connor will confirm their baptisms and become members of the church. Confirmation Sunday is April 30, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. Come to celebrate and let them know they are well-supported on their faith journeys. There will be a special coffee hour after worship that Sunday!
Pie making has begun and will continue every Monday at 9:00 a.m., as long as the Hothouse rhubarb is available. There is a sign-up sheet on the back table to begin taking orders. We will be offering the famous Strawberry/Rhubarb Pie and the original Rhubarb Pie - both selling for $15 each. Your pie will be frozen, and directions for proper baking will be included. If you have any questions, please see Carroll Simmons.
Thursday, April 13 - Maundy Thursday Seder Last Supper Worship at First Methodist Church 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 14 - First Congregational Church will be open for Prayer & Meditation 1:00-3:00 p.m. / Ecumenical Tenebrae Service will be held at St. Peter's Lutheran Church 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 16 - Easter Sunday! Worship begins at 10:00 a.m. at First Congregational Church. Please join us!
Come join the fun and fellowship for Kids Coalition Against Hunger (KCAH) - a community event to be held at St. Peter's. Saturday, April 29th, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm. A sign-up sheet is on the back table with times available, or you can sign-up on the website at www.signupgenius.com. If you have any questions, please see Penny Malcolm. Thank you for your support!
If you are in need for emergency assistance, your gross household income is below posted guidelines, or you currently are enrolled in WIC, SNAP/FAP or CSFP, you qualify for assistance from Harbor Impact Ministries. This is a necessary organization, that is always in need of volunteers. If you could lend a helping hand...the dates are Apr. 25/May 23/June 27/July 25/Aug. 29/Sept. 26/Oct. 24/Nov. 21/Dec. 19. Please contact Barbara Hanneke with any questions, concerns, or to let her know you are coming! (810) 982-5312.
Bible Study will be held every Wednesday in April, 11:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. Please bring your NRSV Bibles.
You have an opportunity to come to the sanctuary and pray every Wednesday at 10:00 am. Please join us in praying for our congregation, our community and our world.
“For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.”
Some Thoughts from Pastor Alana
New Beginnings is the name of a program offered to churches through the National Office of the United Church of Christ. It is intended for churches that are struggling with their call in the hope that the church will make some big decisions about how to proceed into the future.
While I do not feel that First UCC of St. Clair needs to go through New Beginnings, the formal process, I do want you to be aware of it and to think about what it asks of a church and the members. It is important work for any church, even one like First Congregational Church UCC of St. Clair that is healthy and dynamic.
As the New Beginnings process begins, an outside expert comes into a church to do an assessment. This assessment involves studying everything about the church and building. Photos are taken of the sidewalks up to the building, the parking lot, the exterior and the entire interior and all property. The expert offers fresh eyes viewing the church from every angle, just as a church visitor would. Then the assessor writes up a detailed evaluation describing how welcoming the building is; how easily it is negotiated; whether there is adequate signage to provide direction; how handicapped accessible it is for those in wheelchairs, those who are hearing or visually impaired. Can the entry to the sanctuary be found easily? Is the sanctuary updated, attractive and comfortable?
Members of the congregation are given an opportunity then to do some appreciative inquiry. The assessor asks questions to help members think about their best memories of the church; about what the church means to them and has been best at doing.
A lengthy report is then written complete with photos and includes detailed information about the socio-economics of the community around the church. Finally, a description of options is presented. Each church member receives a copy of the report. Small groups discuss the findings. And church members together make an informed decision about where God is taking them as they consider possible new beginnings.
The options are (1) to go through a new visioning process and to begin again with the new vision; (2) to close the church and to reopen as an entirely new church with a new mission and new name, in the same spot or in a new location- like at a shopping mall or next to a highway exit; (3) to do nothing at all and continue until the church simply can no longer go on; (4) to prayerfully close the church, selling all property and contents of a building and donating funds to a new church start up through the UCC Strengthen the Church Program. The whole process is surprisingly exciting, scary and eye-opening.
As Easter arrives, the time when we welcome Spring and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have an opportunity to think about new beginnings both personally and for the church. We have an opportunity to look at the church once again, with new eyes.
What is it like for someone entering the building? Can they tell easily which door to use? Once inside the door are there directions for getting to the Sanctuary, the offices, classrooms and bathrooms? Are there places in the building that are worn down and unwelcoming?
Are the people inside the building inclusive of newer arrivals? Are those who have visited for several weeks and no longer brand new still invited to be part of conversations? Are they greeted each week during the passing of the peace? Are they connected to church members so that relationships begin to grow? Forming relationships is vital to church vitality!
Being a welcoming church requires a lot of all of us. It requires us to always look at the church building and our behaviors as though we too have just stepped into the church for the very first time. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires this of us.
Church Vitality experts recommend revisiting the church vision every three to four years, suggesting that we might have outlived the vision in that time. Does it still speak to us in this new time? Vital churches are constantly listening to God.
New life. New birth. Rebirth. Revitalization. What do you imagine the future of First Congregational Church of St. Clair, United Church of Christ to be? What are we especially good at? God challenges us continuously and invites us into new opportunities all the time, nudging us to be doers of the Word. Are we responding to the movement of the Spirit, helping seekers to discover Jesus Christ? What new things can we do as we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ? What can we do to energize the church as we head into spring and summer? What sort of new beginnings can we work on together along with the help of God?
This Spring we have opportunities to do some work toward future goals especially as we vote on acceptance of the Open and Affirming Church Statement written by the Inclusive Church Team. The Inclusive Church Team has worked thoughtfully on that statement. Just what is it God is calling us to do next?
We are living in very exciting times. May we prayerfully listen for direction from God who loves us and encourages us in so many ways to be the church in this community and in the world.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.
We have been practicing after church and our group is growing. Sometimes we practice in the choir loft and other times in the Sunday School room. Look for us or listen for us. There is still time to join the Handbell Choir. The more the merrier!
A Pew Pack Sunday is a special Sunday (program, music, etc) where we would like to have the children stay in the church for the service. Each child has an activity pack plus there are several for guests. There will still be nursery for newborn through four year olds.