- 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 12/24 pm)
- Usher sign up – Click here (12/17, & 12/24 (am & pm))
- Flowers sign up – Click here
- Coffee Hour Host sign up – Click here (needed 12/24)
- Communion Server sign up –Click here
- Donate to First United Online – Click here
- First United Vimeo Channel – Click here
Candlelight & Carols
Join us for our special Candlelight and Carols service this Sunday, December 10th at 7pm as 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. We look forward to hearing more about their important work from guest speaker Melissa Shaw. 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.
Feminist Women’s Book Club
Our feminist women’s book club will meet this Sunday, December 10th at 12:30pm in person at Linda Hunt’s home for a holiday season pitch-in. 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 Tree Set Up
Generous members have donated a lovely 12ft. prelit Christmas tree, and we need some help assembling it. Those willing and available are invited to gather around the tree boxes in Fellowship Hall and set up the tree this Sunday, December 10th after worship under the guidance of Ted Wininger. Ladder provided! 😊
Christmas Angel Tree & Wrapping Party
The Board of Outreach invites you to share some holiday joy 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 10th.
You can participate by choosing a tag or tags from the Christmas tree in the Chancel. 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. Additionally, all are invited to experience the joy of wrapping by join us in Fellowship Hall after worship this Sunday, December 10th for a wrapping party, when we will wrap all of the gifts purchased through Amazon. Thank you for your generosity!
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.
IKC Response Session: to the Middle East Crisis
You are encouraged to gather at the Indiana-Kentucky Conference office (in Krannert Hall at the Indiana Interchurch Center) on Tuesday, December 12th from 11am-2pm, as the IKC lives out our commitment to find ways to respond to the crisis in the Middle East. Dr. Michael Spath, Founder and Executive Director of the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace and a member at Plymouth UCC in Ft. Wayne, will begin the gathering by making a small presentation. The large remainder of the time will be dedicated to dialoguing about what it will take to design a Palestine Israel Network in the IKC with specific purpose towards a strategy and response as a Just Peace Conference to what is happening in the Middle East at the moment. Click here to register so that the conversation organizers will know how much food to have prepared.
Wider Church Opportunities
Our wider UCC and ABC communities offer many opportunities for engagement. Consider participating in one of the following this month:
- 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.
NEW/UPDATED THIS WEEK
Newsletter and Announcements Deadlines
The First News deadline is Friday, December 15th. If you would like to have an article included in the January newsletter, please have your article turned in to the church office by the end of the day.
If you would like an announcement included in next week’s church email, please have your item to Lisa Stanger by noon on the Wednesday before.
Following the December 3rd budget hearing, Church Council is taking 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 next Sunday, December 17th. All members of the congregation are strongly encouraged to attend. A quorum of 49 members is required to take action on the budget. Those joining worship via Zoom will be invited to become “panelists” so they can be seen and heard during the meeting. A couple sneak peaks into worship to sweeten the invitation: the Children’s Choir will sing during the service AND Sam Troxal will provide one of his fabulous musical offerings! Hope to see you there!
Serve Meal with Community Kitchen
We volunteer at Community Kitchen of Monroe County on the third Thursday of the month, 3:30pm-6:30pm. You are invited to join us for our next shift on Thursday, December 21st. In addition to serving our wider community, this is also a good way to build relationships within and outside of our church. To volunteer this month or subsequent months click here to access our online sign up or contact Laurie Eynon (firstname.lastname@example.org or (812) 336-1219). Thank you!
The church office will be closed the week of Christmas (beginning December 25th) with Pastor Jessica and Lisa away for the holidays. Jessica will be back in worship on Sunday, December 31st. Watch your weekly announcements for information regarding who to contact during that time with any emergent needs.
Sunday Morning Hybrid Worship
Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am. 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. Katie Hopkins, of Thriving Connections, will offer a Mission Moment. Sara Cole will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead, and Jennifer and Leo Fultz will lead us in lighting the second candle of Advent (the Candle of Peace). Eric Meincke and Hansol Kim will lead us in song, and the First United Vocal Choir will offer special music. Keith Gerber, Linda Smith, and Ted Wininger will offer a warm welcome to all those who will gather in the sanctuary. A beautiful floral arrangement will be provided by Jessica Petersen-Mutai in celebration of Martin Mutai’s birthday. 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 Dave Meyer and Cindy Neidhart.
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 rehearses on Thursdays, 6:15pm-7:15pm in Roger Williams Hall. And, the Vocal Choir rehearses on Thursdays, 7:30pm-9pm, in the Choir Room. If you are interested in joining or have any questions, please contact Eric Meincke at email@example.com.
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.
Keeping Up with Our Congregation
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:
- Melinda Martin
- Oliver Hamisi Agadi (friend of Martin Mutai, contact Martin if interested in offering financial assistance)
- Rebecca Prato
- Christopher Meincke (Eric’s brother)
- Michael Shell
- Jeanne and Norm Overly
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. 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).
The Joy of Hosting
Our Member Relations Committee continues 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 Sabine Lammers and Jennifer Fultz 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 Jessica McIntosh 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.
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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-727-4414 (Cell) (Friday & Saturday off; emergency calls only)
- Lisa Stanger, Office Manager – email@example.com; 812-332-4439 (Office)
- Eric Meincke, Music Director – firstname.lastname@example.org; 501-837-2708 (Cell)
- Mitchell Farmer, Church President – email@example.com; 812-459-3985 (Cell)