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Monarch Butterflies

Last December I was invited to serve for a week as the UCC Chaplain in residence at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. The ten-week summer institute is a 150-year old celebration of the arts, music, education and religion, and I was there the first week in July. It was a great experience, and I thank Eldonna for making it possible for me to attend. Every day there were at least a couple of "aha" moments.

Posted on July 18, 2017 at 9:52 am in Featured Content.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. ~ Psalm 46:4

The theme for our UCC General Synod 2017, held in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, was focused around images of streams and water, but I spent a lot of time at my first General Synod up on the mountaintop being inspired by our denomination! Thousands from across the country (and abroad) came together at the Baltimore Convention Center June 30-July 4 for this bi-annual event. Delegates discerned resolutions of witness, church structure, and function. Delegates and visitors were given opportunities to stand up for issues that called for a faithful witness in Baltimore. There were daily times to be together for inspirational worship and workshops featuring creative ways to be in ministry. Leaders from the national office spoke at gatherings to let us know what they are doing to support local churches on issues and program ministries. Our own Rev. John Tyler was a delegate from the Wisconsin Conference. A few (a very few!) of the highlights for me included:

Posted on July 18, 2017 at 9:45 am in Featured Content.

Responsible Social Media

I am a fan of Facebook. It has allowed me to connect with former classmates, former students, and family in ways that I would never be able to maintain. I would not be able to respond to the joys and sorrows they experience via mail, or even email. First, I would have no way of knowing that was happening in their lives, unless I was in regular contact with them, but secondly, even if I knew about a significant moment in the lives of my friends and family, how often would I take the time to write a note or send a card? Through Facebook, I can, within seconds, send a word of encouragement, celebration, or support (if I saw it in my Facebook feed). Fortunately or unfortunately, when people sign up for social media accounts, there are very few rules that need to be followed.

Posted on July 18, 2017 at 9:37 am in Featured Content.

Division and Despair

Last Sunday in the lectionary we heard the story of Hagar and Ishmael being sent away by Abraham. Abraham sent them into the desert at the request of Sarah. Even though Ishmael was Abraham's son, as Isaac was his son, according to the ancient culture the eldest son would be the heir. To ensure that Isaac would be the heir of Abraham, Ishmael had to be sent away, either to die in the desert, or be forgotten as a son of Abraham. 

Posted on June 27, 2017 at 8:32 am in Featured Content.

Report on Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting

What a lovely setting for the 2017 Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting-the Green Lake Conference Center!  My room at the Roger Williams Inn overlooked the lake, and I took full advantage of the site by strolling, sitting and birdwatching by the lakeshore in the early morning hours and during breaks. Other First Congregational UCC members who were there were Rev. Eldonna Hazen, Rev. Ann Beaty, fellow delegate Casey Newman, Janet Pugh (who was in charge of the overall planning for the event), Tom Pugh, Paul Karch, Rev. Susan Shands and Julie Kramer (who co-led a Faith Formation Gathering with Ann). Rev. Jerry Hancock was there to lead a workshop on Saturday, and Don DeBruin, who staffed the Association of Church Musicians table.

Posted on June 20, 2017 at 9:41 am in Featured Content.

Congregational Meeting June 25, Renovation Loan Detailed Approval

On Sunday, June 25th following worship, the Executive Council has called a special meeting of the congregation to approve the details of a loan previously approved for the renovation of the west half of the building. The current situation is this:

Posted on June 13, 2017 at 8:57 am in Featured Content.

A Grand Day of Celebration

Many thanks to everyone who made Sunday a wonderful day in the life of First Congregational!

Posted on June 6, 2017 at 10:13 am in Featured Content.

An Evening of Learning

Over the last six months, there have been plenty of reasons for us, as Christians, to be discouraged. The Gospel authors, documenting Jesus' ministry, made it clear what Jesus called us, as disciples, to do in our ministry. The words were not written as suggestions, they were written as direction. We are to love our neighbors, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, and give drink to the thirsty. And who are we to love, feed, clothe, visit, and provide drink for as neighbors? Jesus says it is anyone who is our brother or sister. 

Posted on May 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm in Featured Content.

Neighbors!

We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another. (...) There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the road once in awhile and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might indeed become neighbors.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
This quote comes from Nouwen's book Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith. The book was published in 1996, two months after his death. Although these words were written in 1996, they still ring true today. We have a tendency to get caught up in our own busy lives, or get preoccupied by our own interests and desires. Sunday, June 4, we will have the opportunity to be good neighbors in two ways. 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 10:10 am in Featured Content.

Thanks for your generosity!

This Sunday after worship, we will be having the Annual Meeting of First Congregational. There are several items on the agenda, but one of them is voting on the new membership of the boards for the church. We will install the members of the boards, and say thank you to the many that have served on boards and have concluded their terms on the boards. 

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 9:23 am in Featured Content.

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