Looking for more information about the Annual Spring Meeting of the Chicago Metropolitan Association? You’re in luck!
Included below is information from Rev. Wayne MacPherson, who you can contact with any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org, 773-324-7650). And here’s Wayne’s full letter and the registration form (which can be emailed or printed out and mailed; see form for details). We can’t wait to welcome you to Bethany! Want to volunteer that day? Reach out to us at email@example.com
Greetings to the Chicago Metropolitan Association congregations, clergy, laity, and UCC-related community, health and educational institutions. Let us gather together at Bethany United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, May 4, 2019 for our Annual Spring Meeting. This will be a time for celebration, worship, fellowship, learning and faith sharing.
Bethany UCC is located at the corner of Paulina and Cullom Avenues in Chicago. Cullum is one block south of Montrose and Paulina is one block west of Ashland Avenue. The church is located three blocks east of the Montrose stop on the CTA’s Brown line. Street parking is available as well as parking in the lot of Ravenswood School at 4332 N. Paulina Avenue. Entrance to the lot is on Cullom Avenue. As usual we encourage ride sharing.
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. A continental breakfast will be served. There will be a pick-up choir for the worship service and the choir will gather at 8:15a.m. – 8:45 a.m. in the choir room downstairs. Childcare from 8:45 - 12:30. Gather at 9 a.m. for worship, meeting, presentations.
After greetings from CMA and Illinois Conference leadership as well as our host pastors, we will join in worship led by our host congregations. The rest of the agenda will consist of a business meeting along with three presentations. The first presentation on the Illinois Conference’s Lilly Grant will be led by Rev. Dr. David Russell, Associate Conference Minister of the Illinois Conference. The second presentation will look at Storytelling in Worship and will be led by Rev. Rebecca Anderson, one of our host pastors. The third presentation will look at the Opioid Epidemic. Discussion will be led by Ms. Deborah Dillon on the Illinois Opioid Alternative Act.
There will be a separate youth event sponsored by Off the Pews. Attendees will join us for worship but then have their separate program. Program and Registration information will be sent separately.
The registration fee of $25 ($30 on-site) includes continental breakfast, snacks and lunch. There is a reduced registration fee of $15 for Members-in-Discernment and Retired Clergy. The programOff thePews will cover the registration costs for Youth (23 years and under).
Enclosed with this letter is a registration form. Please register one person per form. Please make additional copies as needed. Early registration is greatly appreciated. Early registration deadline is Friday, April 26, 2019.
In an effort to be environmentally responsible, we will be preparing fewerpackets with Annual Reports for thebusiness meeting. These reports will be available around April 25, 2019 at the CMA website, cma.ilucc.org.
* * For further information, contact Rev. Wayne MacPherson, CMA Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-324-7650. * *
Pastor Vince’s sermon from Sunday October 21.
“The people of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.” – 2 Chronicles 31:5
One Thanksgiving I decided I was going to make my favorite dish from scratch: green bean casserole. It was a silly idea, because green bean casserole, of all dishes, was not designed to be homemade. It’s four cans dumped into a 9x13 pan and covered with another can. But sometimes I like to do silly things.
I made a pot of Martha Stewart’s cream of mushroom soup, complete with a pound and a half of cremini mushrooms. I snapped the ends off fresh green beans and blanched them. I sliced onions as thin as my unskillful hands would let me, and painstakingly floured and fried them a few rings at a time. It was a lot of work, but I did it with joy, thinking about the people I was cooking for.
There is something beautiful about sharing our best with one another. Making a dish from scratch. Picking out a bottle that’s nicer than the occasion calls for. Letting a friend in on our secret chocolate stash. In the bible it’s called the “first fruits.” It’s the cream of the crop, the top shelf, the good stuff. And the people of Israel had the practice of giving it to God.
Our theme for this year’s pledge campaign is “Pitch In.” Like the meals that we share throughout the year, everything at Bethany is made from the gifts we give, the things we choose to share.
When we give to Bethany, we’re not handing our money over to a faceless corporation. We’re making a gift to the people in the pews beside us. We’re saying, “I’m giving this gift so you can hear beautiful music. I’m giving this gift so that your child can go to Sunday School. I’m giving this gift so that we can serve food to hungry neighbors, or teach a refugee child English, or experience a call from the Living God.”
Our pledge campaign this year is ambitious. We hope to receive pledges of $60,000. This money will go toward continuing our service and justice work with The Night Ministry, The Crib, Community Renewal Society, the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches and Refugee One. It will go to an expanded children’s program including Sunday School, Parents’ Night Out, and Faith at Home Workshops. It will go to opportunities for spiritual exploration: for worship, and small groups, and retreats.
It will also honor the long-time pitching in that Dean Arnold has done as our church treasurer, as we seek to hire a part-time financial administrator who can take over some of the important work he has been doing on our behalf for many years.
So let’s give each other our best, our first fruits. As you consider making a pledge for 2019, I hope you’ll think of the others with whom you share this community. What difference could your gift make in their lives? What would you give them, if you could give them anything?
The miracle of a pitch-in, is that we each bring just one dish, but we get to share a feast! What dish will you bring this year? What first fruits can you offer to make Bethany a welcoming and vibrant spiritual home for the neighbors we already know and the ones who are coming to join us?
Sign up for online giving here.
Pastor Rebecca’s sermon from Sunday October 14th.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells the crowd, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your God; for God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”
In my experience, there are two ways to fail at this kind of love for those who believe differently, two general categories: those who won't let the rain fall and those who won't let the sun rise.
I'm usually in the first category. My way of being around those who have different views is to just not bring up those differences. Avoid conflict. Or avoid them. Pretend that the sun is shining, or hold an umbrella over their heads so they don't feel the storm.
That's not Jesus' way of loving. He doesn't hold back from calling out injustice. He argues religious and political points vehemently. And far from avoiding his enemies, he goes out of his way to be around them.
He is most likely to step in when someone else is being harmed. When children are being shooed away or a woman is about to be stoned. He won't stay silent. But, he's also open to being changed by those he argues with, like the Canaanite woman.
Then there's the other category. Those who never let the sun rise on their enemies. Who refuse to see the humanity in them. Who don't care. Who can't forgive. Those who want to destroy their enemies.
That's not Jesus' way of loving either. He is always willing to receive someone from the opposition: a leader of the synagogue, a Pharisee, a centurion. Jesus has compassion for the rich young man even as he rejects Jesus' advice. He refuses violence in the face of arrest. He asks for forgiveness for those who kill him. He returns to the disciples who have denied and abandoned him.
How do we respond in love to those who have different views? Treat them the way we treat the people we already love. Get in fights when they do something to hurt us or when we see them hurting others. Defend our viewpoints, but also listen and be willing to change. (We might not be right as often as Jesus, either.) And also recognize our shared humanity. Have compassion. Find common ground. Forgive often.
I feel fairly confident that's the answer. It's just doing it that's so impossible.
In at least two of the gospels, Jesus goes to a place called, well, Bethany, to have a meal with some friends. The host had a skin disease, so it seemed to Jesus’ friends that he was there because there was work for him to do. They thought, “touch the man and heal him! This is exactly what you do!”
But Jesus was eating a delicious dinner and enjoying the company of his friends, skin disease and all.
Then, suddenly, a woman, one of their friends, took out a very special, very expensive sealed jar, filled to the brim with very expensive, deliciously aromatic perfume, and she broke it open, pouring every last drop on Jesus’ head.
I don’t know if any of them had ever smelled anything so good! In fact, it was so startling that one of them became angry said, “how wasteful!! How selfish! We could have sold that and given the money to somebody on the street!”
This story is the closest thing we’ve got to bath bombs, or massages, or lavish self care we’ve got in the Bible. And Jesus is accused of selfishness, of wasting resources, of taking a moment for himself — wasting time, instead of working every hour of every day, as they expect him to. And so, I think, so will we be. But, It seems that self care is part of the way of life that the gospel paves for us. And it seems that Jesus thought it was worth the risk.
Jesus responds to his friends’ accusations by reminding them of this: you have every moment in the world to work and care for the poor. And what she did was beautiful. This is what she had to offer. She has prepared me for what I am called to next in God’s purposes for the world. God uses all things, even perfume and bath bombs for the good of those who love God, for the good of God’s dream for the world.
Do you know what is next for you? Are you ready for it? It seems that someone has arrived in the world with a gift to pour out for you. Soak it in- then go.