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A Pastoral Letter to White Americans

The stories of young black men being killed by white police are sparking a national conversation. However, public responses to these painful stories reveal an alarming racial divide. From an unarmed teenager killed in Ferguson, Mo.; to a 12 year-old boy shot dead in Cleveland; to a white police officer on video choking a black man to death in New York City; and a startling series of similar stories from across the country and over many decades — our reactions show great differences in white and black perspectives.

 

Posted on December 16, 2014 at 10:54 am in Featured Content.

Parable of the Talents

On Sunday, November 16th, the sermon was based on the Parable of Talents, from the Gospel of Matthew. The parable is about three individuals being given one, two, or five talents while the boss is out of town. When the boss returns, all must account for the talents they were given (one talent being the equivalent of 20 years of wages). At the end of the sermon, I challenged all of us to take a random envelope, holding a one, two or five dollar bill. How, if at all, would we invest? I was amazed by the investments people made with the money. The accounting of investments we received follows:

 

Posted on December 2, 2014 at 10:37 am in Featured Content.

'Tis the Season of Advent!

"Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present. 

~ Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac

 

Posted on November 26, 2014 at 11:34 am in Featured Content.

Through the eyes of....

The staff of First Cong is excited to share the theme of this year’s Advent series:  Through the eyes of  . . .  Often times we get in a rut of re-telling the story of the birth of Jesus as we have heard it told for many years. We look through the eyes of the storytellers we have heard for years. We look through the eyes of the Gospel writers, or the Older Testament writers of Isaiah. These sources of information give us great insight into the feeling of the story as it was told, but we are somewhat limited to the author’s eyes. During the four weeks of Advent and the Sunday following Advent, we hope to present the story through specific eyes, using the scripture as a guide with additional readings to enhance the text. Imagine with us, how the original characters might have experienced the time shortly before, during, or after the birth of Jesus.

 

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 11:53 am in Featured Content.

Is First Congregational a GFC?

We are in the strong part of the programming year in the Christian church. We are weeks away from being in Advent, a time when people think more about church, and a time when more people are “checking out” churches to see if they “fit.” During a time when Stewardship has asked us to check our vision about giving, it might be a good time for us to check our vision as a church. Thomas Rainer from Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, assembled data on what he calls GFCs  (Genuinely Friendly Churches.) He set certain parameters for GFCs; and then attempted to measure those churches guest return rates. A guest return rate is simply the percentage of guests who will return to the church for at least a second visit.

 

Posted on November 11, 2014 at 11:22 am in Featured Content.

First Congregational & Beth Israel Center

The letter below was written by Cynthia Hirsch as an OpEd for the Wisconsin State Journal. First Congregational was proud to be able to host Beth Israel Center for their High Holy Days this year. Beth Israel Center and First Congregational will be celebrating Thanksgiving together on Thanksgiving Eve with “A Conversation on Gratitude,” led by Rabbi Joshua Ben-Gideon and Rev. Eldonna Hazen. Please plan to join us at 7:30pm on November 26th at First Congregational.

 

Posted on November 4, 2014 at 11:11 am in Featured Content.

All Saints/Stewardship Sunday

"One of the things I love about the lives of the saints is that hardly any of them followed the rules.  They all departed from what the rules of their own time were, in their pursuit of the radical practice of the life of Jesus in their world." 

~ Diana Butler Bass

This Sunday we will have the unique opportunity to celebrate All Saints Sunday and Stewardship Sunday. Most of the time we honor the saints on one Sunday and take another Sunday to encourage people to be good stewards of the gifts they have been given. When the Board of Stewardship was planning the Stewardship campaign, it seemed natural to me to combine these two Sundays. 

 

 

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 10:21 am in Featured Content.

The Blessings of our Animals!

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.

~ Francis of Assisi

Posted on October 21, 2014 at 9:47 am in Featured Content.

Madison Area CROP Hunger Walk

Samantha Rickner will be part of a team of volunteers from Madison West Key Club that will be assisting with the Madison Area CROP Walk this Sunday, October 19. Here is an article she wrote explaining CROP and Church World Service


~ Jeff Rabe

Posted on October 14, 2014 at 10:05 am in Featured Content.

Open and Affirming Sunday: Let's Celebrate!

The saying "timing is everything" is certainly true for First Congregational this Sunday. The second Day in October is the Sunday we celebrate being an Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation. This year we celebrate 22 years of being ONA. The decision twenty-two years ago was not done in haste, but following 3-4 years of study and education.

Posted on October 7, 2014 at 9:58 am in Featured Content.

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