Monthly letter from Pastor Catherine

 We thank Rev Melissa Douaire for leading us these last three months and wish her the best in the future. 
And we welcome back Pastor Catherine as we look forward to hearing all about her adventures in faith!
“Gathered and Scattered”
 

Acts 2:1-21

Strengthen the Church Offering

What was that morning like?  Jesus’ friends and followers gathered in a sad, small circle as they had every day in those confusing days after they thought Jesus had finally left them for good. Outside, it was a holiday and everyone was visiting Jerusalem – true believers and serious doubters and tourists looking for some excitement and pickpockets looking for some tourists.  But all the people in the world who knew about Jesus were contained in one little room. They must have felt so alone in there. The few of them inside, the celebrating throngs outside.

Then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit arrived! And with that arrival came a startling revelation. They were not alone, as they had thought. They were connected to people in the past, the present and the future. They were connected to those far away and those just down the street. They were connected to those who looked and spoke like them, and those who did not. 

Those gathered in that first congregation on that first Pentecost day thought they were making a closed circle, just for them. You and your congregation feel alone sometimes, too.  Maybe it seems like Jesus has departed and you don’t know what is next for you. But, look! The Holy Spirit is here and now, as she was there and then.

Strengthen the Church Offering

Because we receive the Strengthen the Church offering on Pentecost we remember that our own congregation, however large or small it may seem, is never just acting alone. Your offering to Strengthen the Church supports the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC congregations.

Congregations like First United Church of Christ and Conference Center, open 24 hours a day, which gathers via the on-line platform SecondLife and serves those who cannot access a local church in safety and confidence. Congregations like OMO (Out of Many, One) House which offers both an in-person gathering and a cyber café for its multi-faith healing conversations.

On Pentecost, our ancestors spread the good news by shouting down the street. In our time, UCC congregations are setting up shop on street corners and are taking the good news online, so we can be wherever people need to hear about Christ’s healing love and the Spirit’s creative presence.                                                                                          Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill on its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.                                    As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.

We can forget that we are never alone in our ministries and congregations. Then, along comes Pentecost and the Strengthen the Church offering, to remind us of the Spirit-filled community of which we are blessed to be a part.

 
 
May 2019
 
 
Dear Faith Community,
 
 
A Message from Rev. Melissa Douaire…

It is wonderful to feel Spring’s presence and appreciate the evident resurrections of nature; the

flowers are in bloom, the grass has awakened and buds turning into leaves. We have made it

through another Chicago winter! Alleluia!

Thank you to all who helped make our Lenten season and Holy week so special. I very much

appreciated watching the floral cross take shape into the living cross. All of your contributions

and many hands brought it to life. And now, I too, have a family photo in front of the beautiful  Easter cross!

We have just four more Sundays together, two of them very special during which we will be

honoring Mothers and Veterans. There will also be graduations, end-of- year banquets,

preparation for vacation bible school and plans for summer travel. A busy and exciting time of

year for many of us.

With all of these activities, can you stay calm, centered and full of the spirit? Will you be grateful

and loving in the moment? This is the time to put the newness of your gentle faith into action.

Reach out to those who need a ride, a hand, a kind word. Congratulate those whose endings

are new beginnings. Listen closely for those who are grieving quietly amongst all the action

around them. Put your new faith into action and feel the sweetness of life in a more loving,

calmer and gracious way this spring.

With gratitude for your kind welcome and the opportunity to serve and worship with you.       

God’s continued blessings upon all of you!

Rev. Melissa Douaire
 
 
 
 
April 2019
 
 

Friends,

Blessings upon your Lenten journey! Thank you to those who joined us for Ash Wednesday. We had a sizeable turnout and a moving service carrying us into these forty days of Lent. Each Sunday, we are highlighting a theme that is reflected in the scripture including the following: Gratitude, Trust, Glory, Grace, Friendship, Peace and Faith. It is my prayer that each of you are growing in expected or unexpected ways during this season. The Holy Spirit continues to arrive, surprise and speak! I am very grateful to be spending this meaningful season and walking with you in the mystery of Faith.

Please consider worshipping with us during the special services of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday (the last supper) and Good Friday (Jesus’ death) services will be at 7:00pm on April 18th and April 19th, and then of course, Easter Sunday, April 21st. If you have never attended Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, I encourage you to experience these solemn services that tell our faith story; Light from Darkness, life’s victory over death and then the joy and glory of Easter morning.

The Holy Happenings each week are honoring the vision Catherine offered, “Loving Your Neighbor.” Come and hear the testimonies and connections we have and want to grow inside and outside our church. Your presence is an hour well spent.

Many thanks for the gracious welcome and kindness you have offered me in these early days of my tenure. It is wonderful meeting you and learning your personal stories along the way. You have displayed true Christian grace by allowing this stranger into your home.\

Peace and Grace,

Rev. Melissa Douaire
 
March 2019
From Interim Rev Melissa Douaire while
Pastor Catherine is on Sabbatical
.Hello Friends,

Thank you for letting me share these next few months with you while Pastor Catherine is on a well deserved sabbatical. We have a journey through the Holy Season together – which I am very much looking forward to as meaningful time together.  I hope you will consider participating in the special services that separate this season on the liturgical calendar from the rest of the year.  Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season on March 6th. The Holy Week services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are my favorites of the year; taking us into the depths of darkness and rising in Glory on Easter Sunday.  The Light is sweeter after the darkness.

 

I may look familiar to some of you. Back in 2015, I was a supply preacher at Faith Community. Pastor Catherine and I met through the Fox Valley Conference Committee on Ministry that she was Chairing while I was going through the ordination process.  She was at my ordination in October of 2016 where I was serving at First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn as an Associate Minister of Pastoral Care. I recently left First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn to pursue interim ministry and once again Pastor Catherine and I serendipitously crossed paths, which is how I arrived to be with you this spring. 

 

You will be seeing my husband George on Sunday mornings and my daughters, Adeline (senior) and Ella (junior) sometimes too. The girls are students at Glenbard West. My son, Asher is a sophomore at the University of Denver so his sightings will be scarce, but he will be here for Easter!

Please know that I am available to you as a pastoral confident if “life” arrives while I am here. Much of my ministry passion is pastoral care and relationships. I will respect your worship format and traditions but it will be impossible for it to be identical to what you have experienced with Pastor Catherine.  I hope you enjoy the variety that I will offer and if you don’t… fortunately it won’t be for long!  I look forward to growing new friendships and our faith journeys as we experience the spring days before us.

Peace and Grace,

Rev. Melissa Douaire

 
 
February 2019
 
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

As I hope you already know, I will be leaving for sabbatical on Friday, March 1, 2019 and returning Saturday, June 2, 2019. We have shared many times why a pastor (I) might need a sabbatical, but you (the congregation) may need a sabbatical too.

I am very grateful to have been at Faith Community for 7 ½ years, but I continue to worry about things like complacency and growing stale – not just myself, but also the congregation. We have been blessed with vital church members, but I sometimes get concerned about our willingness to continue doing things the same old way. Ideas we have worked on together since I arrived have now become “the way we’ve always done it.” Some projects and programs, once exciting and new, now need reworking. Sabbatical may just give us the opportunity to step back from the ordinary, see ourselves and our calling in a slightly different light, and imagine what the next years together might hold.

Being in a church where there is mutual affection between pastor and congregation has many obvious benefits for both. We have become comfortable working together, trust each other’s opinions and observations, expect the best from one another, forgive easily when there are difficulties. On the other hand, such a relationship is in danger of becoming so easy that neither party want to offend the other by suggesting something new or to rock the comfort boat by stepping off in a different direction from before.

I want us to be able to continue to capitalize on all those benefits, while learning to listen together for God’s new call to us. Where should we go next? What will our dreams be? How will we realize them? Who will help us move ahead? How can we be both truthful and hopeful about the future?

More and more I have come to believe a sabbatical may give all of us a chance to step back from each other, reevaluate our work in this place, and renew our sense of call to each other and to our particular place. I hope our absence from each other will renew not just me as the pastor, but the work of the church as a whole. People may find something in the temporary arrangement that is refreshing and interesting. They may think of ways to integrate the new into the old. They may dream of creating something completely different out of what has been the same for some time. This is my hope.   

Blessings on the Journey,

Pastor Catherine



 
 
 
January 2019
 
Dear Faith Community,

After the holidays (holy-days) of Christmas, many of us feel tired, fat, and melancholy – great makings for slumping into the role of couch potatoes.  January weather usually supports this lethargy – dark, frigid, snowy – encouraging desires for comfort food and sleep – basically hibernation. Yet while we would like to sleep the deep of winter away – God is beginning the re-creation of Spring.

 

If we look close enough, buds are barely, but perceptively, formed on the end of twigs.  Leaves that were brilliant in the Fall are now being crushed and broken-down into life-enriching mulch and fertilizer.  Seeds and bulbs are planted in the soil; animals, all the way from bugs to great mammals, have prepared for the next generation to spring forth.  All of creation is poised to burst forth with new vigor when the days grow longer, the earth warms, and the great Creator calls them forth.  They are purposeful, planted, prepared, and poised for Resurrection.  We, the children of God, should join in these re-creational activities.

 

Unbelievably, we are just 90 days away from Easter (50 days from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday and 40 days of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Easter, excluding Sundays).  The secular-supplier-side of our economy would like us to buy their understanding that Christmas is the high-holy-day of our Christian faith and make this hard-sell in our consumer culture.  But in reality, we are an Easter people, followers of a Risen Savior, whose life, ministry, death and resurrection have forever changed our lives and the way we live into God’s future.  We gather on Sunday mornings (Little Easters) for worship, fellowship, and challenge  – living the Good News of Jesus Christ – even as we annually remember the events of Holy Week and Easter.

 

In these 90 days we are called to re-create our Faith Community – to purposefully plant, prepare, and poise ourselves for our Resurrection through Jesus Christ. We will plant seeds of Bible study, Lenten gatherings, and mission opportunities in our soil of faith; we will tell our next generation and friends of our new life-changing relationship with Christ; we will dream together of God’s future for our Faith Community and speak words of hope and challenge to one another in love; we will be poised for Resurrection and New Life in the name of Christ. Be sure to read this and following newsletters for upcoming events, worship, and ministry opportunities.

 

So get off your couch, put down that hot wing, and join our Faith Community in the re-creating work that brings more than mere self-satisfaction – but truly new life in His name.

 

Blessings on the journey,

 Pastor Catherine

 
 
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Crossroads Kids Club at Tioga 

~ Faith Community in Action ~

One-by-one they arrive at the school – laden with curriculum notebooks – ready to show their identification – allowed to enter the fortress – coming with one purpose in mind – to share the love of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Tioga Wolves! (That’s the Tioga Elementary mascot – the Wolves).
Our first afternoon of Crossroads Kids Club was a success! Nine 3rd-5th grade students attended with 13 volunteer mentor/teachers from Faith Community. This dynamic team is composed of the following people: Jan Zator, Virginia Skinkys, Kathy Dewart, Barb Seltzer, Heather Smith, Rexene Carlstrom, Sue and Keith Schmitz, Randy Putman, Leo Figueroa, Kevin DeCherrie, and Jim Hamill.
With the leadership of Pastor Catherine and Matt Armstrong (founder of Crossroads Kids Club) this tremendous team prevailed against the unexpected onslaught of PTA parents competing for space and attention while setting up their Book Fair in our shared space. But with awesome Bible storytelling, science projects, praying, singing, and dancing to the “Nae Nae” video, our Faith Community crusaders prevailed even over the offer by a mom of either soccer or Kids Club!
Energized by compassion, commitment, and craziness – this team will continue telling the story of God’s Love every Wednesday during the school year – until the last Wolves shall lie down with the lambs!
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