Message from Pastor Phil    

December 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

Prepare the way of the Lord. . .

Advent is about active waiting.  We prepare ourselves to receive what we have longed for.  Our active participatory waiting is the “special sauce” that brings it to be.

We prepare the way of the Lord by getting certain things straight and smoothing out the bumpy places.  I’m mindful this year that Matthew’s Christmas story is about a refugee family that was facing politically based brutality and had to flee to the neighboring country of Egypt.  Luke tells of weary travelers who were met with “no room in the inn.” I’m beginning to see that if Christmas is about anything, it is about flexing to open up spaces in our hearts for refugees and those who need a welcoming smile? There are people who have risked everything, fleeing terror and brutality, putting themselves and their children in rickety boats, traveling dangerous roads, facing razor wire and closed borders.  All for the hope of a better future.  Recently we have seen desperate people weaponized and used to punish European countries that sought to hold a tyrant in Belarus accountable.  Other times the lines get blurred and it becomes really difficult to sort out who is a legitimate refugee fleeing political horror and who is trying to pose as a refugee simply seeking a better economic opportunity. For some, it is a desperate hope that surely someone will notice that they are human beings and have mercy.   For others they are trying to work the system. How can we be faithful, just, merciful, and wise during these bumpy times.   How can we make those bumpy places a little smoother? 

Let’s not forget that this story of good news plays out in a world full of bad news.  Every year this drama plays out in real time.  Tyrants are still trying desperately to hold on to power and are willing to sacrifice babies.  The ones in the court are complicit in the brutality and slow to speak truth to power.  We still have those who dare to lift their gaze past the horizon and behold the stars and to be led into new possibilities.  We still have moms who hold their newborns and ponder.

We still have shepherd kinds of folks who, outside the normal circles and dances of power, can hear from the heavens, be filled with wonder, and can be excited about new possibilities.  The story is not to be remembered as history, it is to be read as a newspaper telling of current day events and possibilities.     

I have learned so much during my stay with you.  This is my second Christmas with you and will undoubtedly be the last.  I hope you never have another one like the last!  The Search Team is doing their work and we are nearing the interviewing part of the journey.  This is a time of hope and excitement!  We have worked together to smooth out the bumps and get ready to welcome your next minister!  I pray that your hearts have been prepared to welcome and joyously receive the one who will serve you, minister with you, and lead you in new paths of service and faithful engagement.  Dream big dreams and throw yourself into the work of the Kingdom!    

My prayer is that this Christmas will be a rich experience of what it is to live in hope-filled expectation and prayerful preparation as we open ourselves to receiving the future that God invites us to welcome!

Blessings and Merry Christmas!

Pastor Phil

 
 
 
 
 
November 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,
The first thing we know about God, is that God, created the heavens and the earth.” 

The most amazing thing is, is that there is anything at all.  We are a part of it and have consciousness to know that we are apart of it. 

We can live sinking into it, being absorbed by the needs to eat, needs for security, needs to procreate like all other lesser living forms around us, or, we can maintain a conscious distance and become observers and players in the dance of creation.

Most people forgo the human capacity for conscious living and succumb to the daily demands and distractions of just getting by. Even though we are supposedly the most advanced civilization that ever has been, and we have technologies that previous generations would think miraculous, we are the most medicated and distracted people ever.  With all our advancements, suicide and depression are epidemic.  We self-medicate through various legal and illegal substances.  We lose ourselves in time/awareness killing activities like celebrity fascination, entertainment distractions, getting lost in political bunny holes, all insuring we stay safely in a state of unconsciousness.

Our culture tells us to be good producers and consumers.  The better we are at producing and consuming, the more successful” we are deemed to be.  The problem is that even when people are really good at producing and consuming, they dont seem to be happy.  Suicide and substance abuse are just as high among the high achievers in this value system as they are among the failures.” 

It would seem that we were not created in the image and likeness of the producer consumer” value system.  We have long believed that we are created in the image and likeness of the creative force of the universe.  It is that breath that fills our lungs and seeks to be expressed in our living.  We are created with a capacity for JOY!  The one who created us and breathed life into us, is not glorified by us barely hanging on and getting by, drugged, distracted, and dumbed-down living.  God is glorified in our living as we claim our I am-ness” in Spirit and express our nature as creative loving joy filled people!

Thank you for your generosity and faithfulness as we enter that familiar “Stewardship awareness season.”  It is through your giving that the ministry of this church will grow and flourish.  The world needs strong churches who hear and proclaim good news!  We live in times of purposefully stirred up division, fear and mistrust.  The world needs to hear that,  “God so loved the world. . .” perhaps now more than at any other time in history.  We need to hold on to Jesus prayer that, we may be one,” even while there are vigorous forces working overtime to both create and capitalize on divisions.  Yes, there is darkness in many corners, but we have been called to let our light shine. . .” 

Blessings,

Pastor Phil

 
 
 
 
October 2021
 
Dear Faith Community,

October is here, Winter is coming. . .

I have been with you for over a year now.  In some ways I feel that I am among friends that I have known for years and in other ways I feel that I am just getting to know you!

October, the month of harvest, of leaves turning to majestic splashes of color, of Halloween, All Saints, and the fun of Octoberfest.   Also, making sure that there is gasoline for the snowblower.  As we resist switching our closets to the winter wear, we have this growing awareness that winter is on it’s way and rather than fight it, we had better prepare for it.

This seasonal rhythm gives us winter in a regular and predicable way, and because of this we can easily prepare for those lean cold months.  In other areas of life, those “wintertime’s” are not so foreseeable and not so easily prepared for.  Those times when there is a surprise loss of a job or income, medical news that was unanticipated, a storm, fire or flood, a relationship that took a surprising turn, and we find ourselves in a cold and hostile environment.  It is those times when the sage wisdom, “expect the unexpected” points its fingers at us and says, “I told you so. . .”  But how do you prepare for an unknown? 

You can’t, but here is what I’ve learned.  No matter what “winter” comes at you, you are able to get through it better if you have resources, money in the bank, friends, and faith.

Folks who spend every paycheck all summer have real difficulty when the first snow starts to fly.    I always tell couples that I am counseling in pre-marriage sessions to make a financial plan to live on less than you are making.  Be diligent in saving.  Those who listened to me certainly do better than those who don’t.

Feed your friendships.  “I get by with a little help from my friends,” is a great song and a good lesson in life.  Those who have invested time and heart into friendships, will always do better when facing surprise “winters” than those who have been cavalier about relationships.

Faith.  Believing that, “this too shall pass,” that, Springtime is on its way, also helps immeasurable in getting through the dark cold days of winter.

We are still in the “winter” of Covid-19.  But there are tools and strategies to lessen the impact.  Use them!  We will get through this!  We are also in a strange kind of wintertime, politically, in this country, where whole business models are designed around sensational misinformation rather than helpful news, and algorithms are formulated that increase divisions and hostilities among, “We the People.”  It is increasingly hard to be, “That More Perfect Union” when profits and power flow to people and entities that stroke hysteria and pump out lies.

During these times we need church more than ever.  A place of sanctuary, of healing, of breathing, of mutual support, and of holding on to a story of grace, reconciliation, and inclusion.  Your church needs you and you need your church!  Together we can face any storm and get through any winter. 

Blessings and Peace,

Pastor Phil
 
 
 
 
 
 
September 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

One of my favorite movies is Gladiator.  Yes, it is bloody, violent and probably not at all appropriate for a minister to enjoy, but I justify it by allowing that it is an interesting exploration of human nature and reveals both the heroic and the devious parts of what it is to be human.

One of my favorite scenes is when Maximus, the hero, who has fallen from being a successful general and whispered heir, is now a gladiator in the arena and he and a whole group have been set up to be slaughtered in a reenactment of a famous battle.  They don’t have any idea what is about to happen, and they all look at a door to the arena that will in seconds open and reveal what is coming to massacre them all.  He tells them, “Whatever comes out of those gates, we have a better chance of survival if we work together. You understand?  We stay together, we survive.”

They did work together, and they did survive.  It’s a good life lesson.  No one could have predicted Covid-19 or the effects it would have.  No one knows what is coming through the gates of tomorrow, but this is sure, whatever it is, we have a better chance of survival if we work together.

We are now a year into this transitional time.  The Search Committee has already done so much work.  The Profile is ready to go!  Soon, they will be reading the Profiles of ministers looking for a church.  Then they will be meeting and interviewing prospective ministers.  There are so many unknowns and so many challenges, but somehow if we stay together and work together, we will survive and thrive.

Church is the practice of being together, dreaming together, working together, and worshipping together.  Together has looked different in recent times but the essence is the same.  We need each other and we will get through “whatever comes through those gates,” if we stick together.

 Blessings,
Pastor Phil
 
 
 
 
 
 
August 2021
 
Dear Faith Community,

Who are we?

Who do we want to be?

These are the main questions being asked by the Search Committee.  Every journey begins where you are.  That is why the first question is so important.  Being honest about our strengths, weaknesses, possibilities, challenges, resources, demographics and lay of the land, is critical to being successful in the journey ahead.  Having a very clear understanding of where we want to go is also critical at this time.  Having a clear picture of what success looks like is essential to getting there. 

We know that attendance and membership has declined.  That is where we are.  We also know that we have abundant resources, and vision and heart, that can be applied strategically to possibly bend that trajectory.

We have heard from you that we want to and need to  grow.  We know that attracting new members is essential to the continuation of this church.  We are also very well aware of the changes in demographics in our community.  What is growth going to look like?  Who are these people that we think might start calling this church their home?  If they walked into our church this Sunday, would they feel welcome?  Would they feel like they have “come home” or would they feel like strangers in a strange land?  How can we become more welcoming to those who might be looking for a new church family?  What should we be looking for in our next minister so that he or she is attractive and welcoming to these prospective new members?

These are the questions that both the Discernment Team and the Search Committee have wrestled with and are wrestling with.                                                                                         

Please join them!  Join them in these questions and in the wresting.  The Discernment Team’s report has been given to Council and is available.  Please request a copy and   devour it!  Please engage the Search Committee with your thoughts and suggestions.  The future is ours to shape.  Ideas and dreams planted now will take root and grow and will be what bears fruit and brings abundance in the future life and ministry of this congregation!

Blessings,

Pastor Phil

 

 
A Message From Faith Community Council  September  2020

Hello members and friends. 

We would like to Welcome Pastor Philip Price, his wife Vickie, and family into our fold. Again Covid19 will be playing a role in our welcome as we are still exercising social distancing.  We are anxious to experience his ideas.  Pastor Phil will be starting on September 14th, as our Leader and Teacher.  Welcome to Faith.   Here is a little introduction.
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Greetings From Pastor Philip Price, Interim Minister

I am so excited to have been selected to be your transitional minister! 

This “in-between” time is a critical time in the life of a church.  The work that we do now helps the church to know itself and to make the right choice.  Being clear on who you are is the most important factor in finding someone who will be a great match for your church.  We have remembering, dreaming and connecting to do.  Remembering will help us to mine the rich history of Faith Community UCC as there are elements of your past to be celebrated and reexamined.  Some of them may become beacons or guiding lights into your future.  Others may have lived out their purpose and are no longer expedient or necessary and must be let go to reach for ministry opportunities that are in front of us right now.  Dreaming will help us to be open to the Spirit and will remind us that God never expects us to be perfect or powerful, only available.  We will also work on strengthening the bonds between the members, with our denomination and with our community.   When Spirit meets available hearts, amazing things happen! 

My wife Vicki, and I, live in Glen Ellyn.  We have six children, most of them launched, one still in university.  And, we have five grandchildren!       

I have served large and small churches in Canada, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Illinois.  I have been the called minister in many of them and an Intentional Interim in several.

I am looking forward to getting to know you and together creating the vision and doing the work of discernment that will bring the next chapter of your ministry in Bensenville into being.

My start date is September the 14th, so, see you soon!

Pastor Phil

 
 
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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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