Message from 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

 

 
 
 
July 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

“Summertime and the living is easy. . .”

Well maybe for some folks, but not for the Pastoral Search Committee!  They have been busy and will continue to be busy through the summer and into the fall.  Right now the job is basically two things,  1. To complete the Profile – the tool that the UCC has developed to help match congregations to prospective ministers, and 2. to hear from you, the congregation, your concerns, aspirations and goals.

It is so important for you be present in this moment of the journey.  They want to, and need to, hear from you.  We all sense that this is a critical and exciting time in the life of this congregation, and it is very important that we get this right. 

What is becoming very clear is that the challenge we face is multifaceted.  We are facing the challenges of trajectory, demographics, too much work being done by too few people, and running down the clock.  And, if that were not enough, we are coming out of an extremely difficult year of dealing with a global pandemic.  And. . . if that were not enough, you’ve had a change of pastoral leadership right in the middle of all of that!  If there ever were a time that “rallying the troops” is called for, it is now! 

The first thing you can do is to come back to worship (if you are able).  This past year has been tough on organizations whose very purpose and lifeblood is to be together.  We have stretched and learned and found virtual alternatives and ways to be together, and we are so thankful for the work and effort that has gone into those endeavors, but now it is time for us to be back together.  It was so nice a few weeks ago to actually be able to see each other’s faces and smiles!

The next thing we all can do is to pray.  Pray for the Pastoral Search Committee that they may be given wisdom, insight, understanding, and boldness, as they do the work of discerning, choosing and offering to us the leader that will guide us into our future.

Then, be present to the process.  Let your voice be heard and let your ears be opened.  Hear and speak.  Let your voice be an honest expression of your hopes, concerns and aspirations.  Let your voice be a voice of encouragement and support to those who are doing the heavy lifting in this Search process.

Finally, lets all be in a place of thankfulness, gratitude and wonder.  We have so much to be thankful for;  the leaders and saints who have gone on before us, and on whose shoulders we do our work.  Gratitude for those who are carrying the load right now. 

Wonder.  Allow yourself to be filled with delightful wonder.  Wonder, “what if…”  and allow your mind to drift and consider all the exciting possibilities where our choices may take us!  Banish fear and negative thinking.  Be filled with the Spirit, and allow the Spirit to express wonder and delight through you!

Pastor Phil

 
 
 
 
 
June 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

The Future. . .

The future does not just happen.  It does not just appear out of nothing, readymade.  It is created, shaped into being, coaxed into existence, prodded into reality, by the efforts, decisions, actions, and force of will, by those who understand their role in being “co-creators with God.”    

If we just passively wait for the future to arrive, it will either be shaped by the inertia of the past, or, it will take its form from the efforts and decisions of others. 

Inertia is the energy of the past, the force of history.  It is one of the most powerful forces in shaping the future.  This past month we have seen these forces expressing themselves once again on our televisions as we witnessed the Palestinians and Israelis once again killing each other’s children.  This inertia is thousands of years old and neither side in this conflict has the courage, insight, or will, to decide on a future that is different than the past.

If we want the future to look like the past and continue the set trajectory, there is little we need to do.  This is true in global politics, national politics, church visioning, and personal financial and personal health well being.  On the other hand, if we want the bathroom scale to give us different numbers when we stand on it, or if we want our bank statement to give us different numbers, or if we want peace in the Mid-East, we need to make different choices than what were made in the past. 

The future is created out of choices made today.  Brick by brick, calorie by calorie, dollar by dollar, choice by choice, the future takes form and is born out of will and action expressed today. 

What do we want our church to look like in five years?  This time of discerning and choosing new leadership is a critical point in the life of a church.  It is time for us to remember, dream, and decide and act.  What Faith Community church will look like in five years will be directly related to conversations, decisions and actions taken in the next few months.

Be a part of it!

We are having a special meeting on June 6th, right after church, for us to regroup and participate in this shaping of our future.

Be there! 

Pastor Phil  

 
 
 
 
 
May 2021
 
Dear Faith Community,

In just a few weeks we will be celebrating Pentecost! 

We are to think of ourselves as an Easter people, filled with Pentecostal power!

Pentecost is the birthday of the church.  The church is to be thought of as the resurrected body of Christ.  We accept that we are filled with the Spirit in the same way that Jesus was filled with the Spirit.  We accept that we are one with God the same way that Jesus is one with God.  And, we accept that we have been given the same mission that Jesus was given.  “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  John 20:21

Jesus understood his mission as one of revealing his oneness with God.  Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  Over and over he claims and teaches the radical truth that he is ONE with God and that we can be ONE with Him.  We are invited into this ONENESS.  As this truth is embraced, all of the false lines of distinction and enmity are erased.  We can start to believe that God does love the whole world (not just us), and that it is possible to love each other because we are all of God.

Easter shows God’s solution compared to the world’s solution.  Good Friday reveals the world’s solution.  It goes something like this:  If you are afraid of something, silence it, shame it, ridicule it, mock it, and then if none of that works, kill it.  God’s Easter solution went something like this:  If you fear something, understand that love casts out all fear.  It challenges us to love our neighbors.  Not just the nice ones who look like us, but the ones who are very different from us in language, beliefs, customs and nationalities.  The Easter God is the God John was talking about, when in defining God he proclaims that God IS Love!

Prayer:  God, help me to get over myself and my fear.  Help me to listen to your word more than I listen to the world’s fear based narratives.  Help me to believe that you are not only with me, but that you are ONE with me. Help me to know that as I trust this, I will naturally and joyfully do your will and express your nature – LOVE.

It is so good to see you in church again!  This year of Covid has been a hard go, but it feels like we are coming out of it.  Most of us have had our shots and we are feeling better about being out and about.  Yes, we still need to be careful, but, there is a growing sense that it is safe for us to be together again, with sensible and appropriate cautions.  Please come back to in-person worship according to your own risk assessments. 

We can’t wait to see you! 

Blessings and Peace,

Pastor Phil
 
 
 
 
 
April 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

Lent is an interesting time.  Probably more important than Christmas and Easter for spiritual growth because we deal with the great perplexing questions and paradoxes of life.

During Lent, assumptions are set on end and previously held beliefs get reversed.  We deal with temptations.  Not just those pesky naughty impulses to do the things that we know we shouldn’t, but the big ones, the ones that would divert our lives into directions of culture defined success  rather than true life defined success.  Temptations to sell our lives for the proverbial “mess of    potage.”  Temptations to become invisible and to “not get involved,” when we have been called to “let our light shine.”  Temptations to force our behavioral truth on others through legislation or shaming, rather than letting the spirit perform the work of grace on others. 

During Lent, we have seen Jesus redefine some of humanities most cherished and foundational illusions.  The whole idea of “Messiah,” redefined.   We had always thought of Messiah as a super-man who would come and save us.  The longing for this archetype lives on in our movie         fantasies to this day.  The superhero, action hero, westerns, and virtually all of our police/detective movies are all fantasies that betray this deeper longing.  We are so susceptible to this longing that we repeatedly fall for the “politician messiah” who makes the most outlandish promises, the eastern guru messiah, who promises “enlightenment,” the “latest gadget” that will define and save you, the latest scientific breakthrough that will, “save the world.”  When Jesus told the disciples that he was going to “suffer and die,” this did not fit the superhero messiah model and Peter tried his best to educate him.  We don’t want our messiahs to suffer and die, we want them to be big and strong so that we can continue to be weak and helpless.  As long as we can remain weak and helpless, nothing is our fault.  

Then the whole idea of the Temple got a major revision.  This idea that you have to meet God in a certain place in a certain way.  That there is a special class of special people who can either grant or deny you access to the holy.  We have always loved the idea that there are certain places where God IS, because that means, everywhere else, God ISN’T.  We like a contained God that we can go to God when WE want.  The idea of an “un-contained” God who is part of our everyday living is disconcerting to say the least.

The cross – the most gruesome means of execution ever devised – becomes seen as a door way to life, and death itself becomes a victory.

It is important to spend time wrestling with the paradoxes of Lent, otherwise the glory of Easter slips off the narrow path that leads to a higher truth and becomes just another feel good superhero fantasy.

Lent, properly embraced, leads to death, and then to an empty tomb, and then to living a life on the other side of stones being rolled away, and being free in ways that couldn’t even be imagined in the Good Friday world.

The journey through Lent leads to us becoming an Easter people.  A people not confined or limited by the categories of the Good Friday world.

Happy Easter!  Welcome to the unlimited skies of resurrection living and dreaming!

Pastor Phil
 
 
A Message From Faith Community Council  September

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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