- Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
- Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Mondays @ 10am; Join Zoom Meeting here
- Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am;Join Zoom Meeting here
- Scripture Reader sign up – Click here (needed 12/17)
- Usher sign up – Click here (needed 12/03, 12/10 (am & pm) & 12/17
- Flowers sign up – Click here
- Coffee Hour Host sign up – Click here (needed 12/17)
- Communion Server sign up –Click here
- Donate to First United Online – Click here
- First United Vimeo Channel – Click here
Pizza & Play
Members,families, and friends are invited to come together for an informal, unprogrammed play time in Fellowship Hall and on our playground and surrounding area
TONIGHT, December 1st, 5:30pm-7:30pm. As the name implies, pizza and drinks will be provided. And feel free to bring a game/activity to share!
First Sunday Food Drive
The Board of Outreach invites you to offer food donations on the first Sunday of each month on the marked table in the narthex. This Sunday, December 3rd, we encourage you to bring donations of non-perishable food items for our community members in need. As always, all of the collected human food and cleaning/hygiene items will go to Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM), and pet food will go to Area 10 Agency on Aging. Click here to for a list of MCUM’s ongoing needs. And, thanks to your generosity, this year’s Harvest Ingathering was bountiful as donations collected throughout October and November totaled 463 pounds of food to be distributed by MCUM.
Budget Hearing and Congregational Meeting
In accordance with our bylaws, a Budget Hearing, during which the 2024 proposed budget (view by clicking https://firstuc.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/2024-Budget-Worksheet.pdf) will be presented for comment and revision, will be held immediately following worship on THIS Sunday, December 3rd. Our Church Council will then take the congregation’s requests and suggestions under advisement to prepare a final budget to be presented and voted on during our regular Congregational Meeting immediately after worship on Sunday, December 17th. All members of the congregation are encouraged to attend. Those joining worship via Zoom will be invited to become “panelists” so they can be seen and heard during the meeting.
NEW/UPDATED THIS WEEK
Christmas Angel Tree & Wrapping Party
The Board of Outreach invites you to consider playing Santa or an angel (messenger) of generosity and joy (pick your metaphor!) once again this Christmas by providing gifts for three families (consisting of four adults and 11 children total) from our wider community. These families are all involved with SCCAP Thriving Connections—building on the power of relationships to bring people together for change. Katie Hopkins will share about their work in our community during a special mission moment this Sunday, December 3rd.
You can participate by choosing a tag or tags from the Christmas tree in the Chancel beginning Sunday, December 3rd. Each tag lists either a gift requested by the families or a dollar amount (many requested items were made via an Amazon gift registry; funds raised will be used to purchase some of these items). If you select a tag(s) with a gift to shop for, please return the wrapped gift(s) to the church building by Sunday, December 17th. If you are participating via a financial contribution and still want to experience the joy of wrapping, join us in Fellowship Hall after worship on Sunday, December 10th for a wrapping party, when we will join together in wrapping all of the gifts purchased through Amazon. Thank you for your generosity!
Feminist Women’s Book Club
Our feminist women’s book club will meet next Sunday, December 10th at 12pm (for about an hour) in person at Linda Hunt’s home. We will read and discuss “While Justice Sleeps” a novel by Stacey Abrams.For location or more information contact facilitator Cindy Stone (stonec@Indiana.edu).
Christmas Eve Worship
Mark your calendars and plan to celebrate Christmas Eve with your First United family and friends on Sunday, December 24th at 7pm. Join us in person or via Zoom as we encounter the familiar story of Christmas as told in the Gospel of Luke, raise our voices in singing beloved carols, and once again pass the flame from candle to candle. A special offering will be collected to benefit our Displaced Immigrant Support Program.
2024 Offering Envelopes and Direct Deposit
We will be using left over 2023 offering envelope boxes for 2024. If you used envelopes this year, your number box will not be the same; please look for your name. Envelope boxes will be available by December 10th on a table outside of the Sanctuary entrance closest to the chancel. Whether you’ve used them before or this is your first time, you are welcome to pick up a box! Alternatively, if you would like to give to the church through direct deposit, please contact Lisa in the office to make sure she knows you would like to give in this convenient way and has your updated information.
First United’s Displaced Immigrant Support Program (DISP) continues to work with displaced immigrant families who have found their way to Bloomington. Recently, DISP has begun a 3rd refugee relationship with a newly arrived family, a brother and sister, from Nicaragua. Our new friends found First United Church themselves when they entered the Saturday People’s Market in Fellowship Hall. Financial support and case management are also being provided to them from Exodus Refugee Immigration. DISP is working with Exodus to fill gaps in service while our new friends get established; more specifics can be found in the December First News newsletter.
The DISP team is always looking to expand, and we need your help. If you would like to volunteer your time directly with this new family, which might include assisting with transportation to or from appointments, cultural introductions, and general friendship and fellowship, please let us know. To learn more or to volunteer, please contact Dave Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Hopi Stosberg (email@example.com).
Wider Church Opportunities
Our wider UCC and ABC communities offer many opportunities for engagement. Consider participating in one of the following this month:
- Blue Christmas: All are invited to join with folks from throughout the United Church of Christ on Tuesday, December 5th, 4pm for a virtual worship service with Team Global HOPE at UCC National Ministries for a Blue Christmas worship service. Click here for more information and to register.
- Webinar: Join American Baptists from throughout our region on Wednesday, December 13th, 7pm-8pm, for a free webinar hosted by American Baptist Churches of the Rochester/Genesee Region as participants discuss with author Willie Dwayne Francois III his book, Silencing White Noise: Six Practices to Overcome Our Inaction on Race. Click here for more information and to register.
- Advent Calendar: The UCC’s Join the Movement toward Racial Justice is thrilled to offer their second annual Abolition Advent Calendar. Through this year’s theme “Freedom for All Bodies,” participants will be invited to engage with generative connection between scripture readings for the season and contemporary abolition movements. Click here to learn more and to register.
Sunday Morning Hybrid Worship
Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am. This first Sunday of the month, we will gather at God’s welcome table and celebrate communion together. Note: Communion elements (bread and wine/juice) will be served in the pews for those gathering in the sanctuary; online worshipers are encouraged to prepare a “nibble” and a “sip” prior to the start of the service. Julian Lammers, Liam Kersten, and Sara Cole will serve those gathering in person.
This Sunday’s service will feature Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai in the pulpit; she will also offer a special message for the young and young at heart. Mitchell Farmer will highlight some of the many ways we are invited to engage in the life of the church and our wider community. Kim Yaussy Albright will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead, and the Kersten family will lead us in lighting the first candle of Advent (the Candle of Hope). Eric Meincke and Hansol Kim will lead us in song, and the First United Vocal Choir will be back to offer special music. Dave Meyer will offer a warm welcome to all those who will gather in the sanctuary and could use some additional help (sign up here). A beautiful floral arrangement will be provided by Siri Loescher in loving memory of Aase and Sam Loescher. And, Kyle Hetrick and Jim True will welcome all who join via Zoom as they ensure the audio/visual pieces run as smoothly as possible. Finally, be sure to join us in Fellowship Hall after worship for a time of fellowship and refreshment hosted by Ted Wininger.
Join the Zoom Webinar by clicking here
Dial-in number: (312) 626-6799; Webinar ID: 828 3681 0281
The service will be posted on Sunday evening on First United’s Vimeo channel (where you can access all of our previous worship services).
Donate online by clicking here
All who are interested in engaging in our Music Ministry are encouraged to join our vocal choir and bell choir! No prior musical experience is required, but a foundational ability to read music is recommended. The Bell Choir will rehearse on Thursdays, 6:15pm-7:15pm in Roger Williams Hall. And, the Vocal Choir will rehearse on Thursdays, 7:30pm-9pm, in the Choir Room. If you are interested in joining or have any questions, please contact Eric Meincke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candlelight & Carols
Join us for our special Candlelight and Carols service on Sunday, December 10th at 7pm. We embrace the Advent Season with a joy-filled evening of carols and candlelight, readings and reflection, community and cookies. The service will be sprinkled with special music provided by our Adult Vocal Choir, Children’s Choir, and Bell Choir. As is our tradition of generosity in the celebration of Advent, a special offering will be taken to support Becky’s Place, a shelter for women and children in Bedford. Please join us and invite the special people in your life. Additionally, all are invited to bring a finger-friendly dessert to share during a reception following the service.
First United’s Drive-Thru Nativity
This Advent/Christmas season, we are once again inviting the Bloomington community (which of course includes all of you!) to drive through our church grounds and hear the biblical Christmas stories anew as we offer a drive-thru nativity experience December 10th—January 6th. (Contact Mitchell Farmer if you are interested in helping with set up.) Here’s what to expect:
- Enter our drive from Third Street, any time day or night
- Get connected: At the start of your visit scan the QR code (use a QR app or your phone camera). The messages will also be available on our church website through a dedicated link entitled “Nativity 2023.”
- OR Pick up a written copy of the messages from the flyer box before the first stop.
- Stop at each of five scenes featuring memorable moments from the biblical stories about the birth of Jesus.
- Each scene includes a scripture reference, a brief exploration of the biblical story, a familiar carol, and a moment especially for children.
- Drive through as many times as you like and invite your friends and neighbors to stop by as well.
Keeping Up with Our Congregation
Throughout our daily living, we, each and all, experience hardships and struggles as well as celebrations and joys. One of the gifts of being part of a community of faith is that we don’t face the ups and downs and middles of life alone. We invite you to share what is going on in your lives by contacting Lisa Stanger and/or Pastor Jessica so we can appropriately share information (with your permission) with our wider community of care that we might offer our support whatever you may be facing.
You are encouraged to offer your prayers and actions of support for:
- Oliver Hamisi Agadi (friend of Martin Mutai, contact Martin if interested in offering financial assistance)
- Rebecca Prato
- Christopher Meincke (Eric’s brother)
- Michael Shell
- James Lane
- Jeanne and Norm Overly
- Sam Troxal
- Parker Waltz
- Jarrel Releford (friend of Parker Waltz)
The Joy of Hosting
We continue to offer support to weekly coffee hour hosts and encourage everyone to sign up to host—it’s easy, fun, and a great way to serve your church family with a one-time commitment. Sign up as buddies or families, invite someone you’ve been wanting to get to know, use the occasion to showcase a family recipe or try out a new one. Sign up to host by clicking here.
Off-Topic Scripture Circle
You are invited to join members and friends of First United each Monday morning at 10am to check in and explore the week’s lectionary scripture readings in a casual setting where you will never be asked to leave your brain or your heart at the door. We meet via Zoom only in an effort to be more accessible; join the Zoom meeting here.
Tuesday Morning Café and Discussion
Join us in person or online Tuesdays at 10am-11:30am as we explore “The Pagan World: Ancient Religions before Christianity” presented by Dr. Hans-Friedrich Mueller. After a time of informal conversation, we’ll engage in thought-provoking theological study and discussion as we meet the fascinating, ancient polytheistic peoples of the Mediterranean and beyond, their gods and goddesses, and their public and private worship practices, and come to better understand the foundational role religion played in their daily lives. Previous participation and perfect attendance are not required. Those interested and able are welcome to gather in Roger Williams Hall; those choosing to join online via Zoom can do so here.
Children’s Learning Time
Each Sunday morning, children in kindergarten and up will begin in the Sanctuary with their families and proceed to Room 2 with their adult leads for Children’s Learning Time (CLT) following the Children’s Time. Many thanks to Molly Koontz and Emily Mathes for leading CLT this Sunday.
We continue to welcome and encourage additional adults to join our teaching rotation to enrich the program for the kids. Lesson materials and supplies are provided, and we have seasoned leaders to help you get acclimated. If you are interested or have questions, please reach out to Molly Koontz, Pastor Jessica, or any member of the Board of Education.
Our youngest children are welcome to spend time from 10am-11:45am playing in the nursery or on the playground, weather permitting. Lena Stosberg and Noel Koontz will ensure our little ones are safe and engaged in fun activities during worship this Sunday. We are always looking for additional volunteer assistants to help in the nursery occasionally. Contact Molly Koontz if you are interested and with any questions.
Online Directory Available!
An online church directory is available for all members of First United! You may access the directory by clicking on “Member Directory” from the “Member Area” drop-down menu located at the top of any page of the church website. Contact Lisa in the office for your sign-in credentials (you are encouraged to change your password after logging in for the first time).
- Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai, Senior Minister – email@example.com; 812-727-4414 (Cell) (Friday & Saturday off; emergency calls only)
- Lisa Stanger, Office Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-332-4439 (Office)
- Eric Meincke, Music Director – email@example.com; 501-837-2708 (Cell)
- Mitchell Farmer, Church President – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-459-3985 (Cell)