- Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Sundays @ 9am; Join Zoom Meeting here
- Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
- Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am;Join Zoom Meeting here (new link as of 11/05)
- Scripture Reader sign up – Click here
- Usher sign up – Click here
- Flowers sign up – Click here
- Donate to First United Online – Click here
- First United Vimeo Channel – Click here
- “Rooted in Love” Online Pledge Card – Click here
- Afghan Refugee Donation Sign Up – Click here
Green Team Film Series
First United’s Green Team will host the final screening of their fall film series in the Sanctuary at 2pm this Sunday, December 12th. You are invited join together to view Gather (2020), an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide. Gather follows Nephi Craig, a chef from the White Mountain Apache Nation (Arizona), opening an indigenous café as a nutritional recovery clinic; Elsie Dubray, a young scientist from the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation (South Dakota), conducting landmark studies on bison; and the Ancestral Guard, a group of environmental activists from the Yurok Nation (Northern California), trying to save the Klamath river. The post-screening discussion questions will invite us to wrestle with the ideas in the film and focus on what we can do as individuals and as a congregation to effect positive change.
Feminist Women’s Book Club
Our feminist women’s book club will meet this Sunday, December 12th, 12pm-1pm, in Roger Williams Hall (for those interested in gathering face-to-face) and via Zoom (for anyone who would prefer to join virtually) to discuss “Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman & C.S. Lewis” by Patti Callahan. As always, new members are welcome to visit as a guest. For Zoom information or more information about the book club contact facilitator Cindy Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get started on reading the selection for the January 9th gathering: “Another Brooklyn: A Novel” by Jacqueline Woodson.
Candlelight and Carols
If you missed last Sunday’s Candlelight and Carols service, you can still experience it via our Vimeo channel. Click here to be taken directly to the service. The service combined readings, musical offerings, and prayers that invite you to once again consider the inbreaking of God through the birth of Jesus. A special offering was taken to support First United’s new Displaced Immigrant Support Program as we work together to welcome and provide a circle of support for displaced immigrants. You can still contribute by clicking here and filling out the “Special Service Offering” section.
Your Final Reminder: Rooted in Love – Stewardship Campaign
This year’s official Stewardship Campaign came to a close on Sunday, November 21st with a celebratory offering of commitments to financially support First United’s ministries in the upcoming year. We know time can go by more quickly than expected and sometimes we need a bit of extra time to make such decisions. So, if you have not yet submitted your pledge card, you may do so online by clicking here or mailing in or bringing your physical pledge card to worship any Sunday. Please contact Lisa if you need a paper pledge card.
If you are still deciding on how you will support First United in 2022, you are encouraged to open yourselves to the movement of the spirit as you witness the powerful testimonials offered by fellow members of our congregation sharing some of the many ways in which our church is rooted in love; check out Malissa Sparks’ testimony here, Ted Wininger’s here, Emily Caldwell’s here, and Noel Koontz’s here.
While there are many ways to support the congregation, our annual campaign provides a chance to think in an intentional and prayerful way about the choices we make with our money in support of the church. Because of YOU, our church shares God’s love!
NEW/UPDATED THIS WEEK
First United’s Displaced Immigrant Support Program (DISP) Committee continues collecting donations to prepare the apartment as we anticipate the arrival of our Afghan refugee family in late December. A tree with tags listing clothing items, sizes, and the ages of the children has been set up in the Narthex; please stop by to pick a tag or two. For other household items, please click here to view the online sign-up sheet (Please note in the comment section if you need someone to pick the item up from your home with your phone number). Items can be deposited on tables in the Narthex and near the Fellowship Hall entrance on Sunday mornings or dropped at the church office during office hours (M-F, 9am-12pm; 1pm-4:30pm). Larger furniture items can be stored in Fellowship Hall behind the newly set-up brown partitions, if needed. Please text or call Cindy Neidhart at 812-322-7375 if you have any questions.
Additionally, we continue to request financial donations to provide basic living needs for this initial refugee family and additional displaced immigrant(s) in the future. A special giving section on the church donation page has been set up as one way to give; click here to access. Individuals may also write checks to First United with “DISP” in the memo line. The Christmas Eve special offering has also been designated by the Board of Outreach to provide funding for this program. Please contact Dave Meyer (DISP Chair; email@example.com) or Pastor Jessica for more information or to express your interest in helping.
Help Head Start Families Have a Happy Holiday!
The Board of Outreach is sponsoring three Head Start families from First United Church classrooms for the holidays. These families applied to Head Start for holiday assistance and were approved based on need. First United members and friends are invited to purchase gifts for each child in these families, including clothing items and a toy or two. The families have provided their children’s clothing sizes and toy interests. We will also give Kroger gift cards to each family so they can purchase holiday foods their family will enjoy. There is a Christmas tree in the sanctuary with tags indicating items to purchase. Take one or more tags off the tree and go shopping for a family in need! Please wrap and label gifts and bring them to the church office by Sunday, December 19th (deadline extended). Gifts will be given to the families at a brief event at the church on Monday, December 20th at 3pm; members of the congregation are invited to attend.
Books for Your Christmas List!
We’ll be offering two new book-based educational offerings at First United starting in January 2022.
Please contact Rev. Petersen-Mutai if these titles don’t show up under your tree, and you would like help purchasing a book.
Christmas Eve Worship
Mark your calendars and plan to celebrate Christmas Eve with your First United family and friends on Friday, December 24th at 6:30pm. Join us in person or via Zoom (or later through Vimeo) 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.
As you have likely heard, Derek Roe will be leaving employment with First United Church effective January 31st. Derek has been a part of our church family since 2014, working with children, youth, adults, and during a tumultuous series of transitions and the global pandemic; he’s served among us with love, faith, and kindness. We celebrate with him as he transitions into his next stage of ministry and offer our heartfelt prayers and support.
A hiring committee has been formed to seek a Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries as we remain committed to offering meaningful faith formation opportunities for the youngest among us. They are finalizing the job description and will share more information as it becomes available. Please contact Rebecca Keith or Pastor Jessica with any questions.
UPCOMING WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
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, following her message for the young and young at heart. We will be treated to a joyful noise as the children’s choir sings “Go Tell It on the Mountain” in addition to musical offerings from our vocal choir, Sam Grace, and Hansol Kim. Bob & Nancy Ivie will lead us in the lighting of the third Advent candle (the candle of joy), and Emily Caldwell will offer a special reflection on joy, present the day’s scripture reading, and serve as our congregational lead. Kim Yaussy Albright and Dave Meyer (We’d love to have one more usher! Sign up here.) will offer a warm welcome and bulletin for those who gather in the sanctuary, and Dedric Dennist will greet those joining us via Zoom. The seasonal arrangement is provided by Jessica Petersen-Mutai in celebration of Martin Mutai’s birthday. And Kyle Hetrick and Jim True will ensure the audio/visual pieces run as smoothly as possible! For those with hearing challenges, please remember to pick up an audio pack in the Narthex as you enter the Sanctuary.
Thank you for continuing to mask and distance while in the church building as we find our way through this continuing pandemic and keep the most vulnerable among us safe! The full Reopening Policy can be accessed here. Any questions or concerns regarding the policy should be addressed to the Church Council.
Join the Zoom Webinar by clicking here
Dial-in number: (312) 626 6799; Webinar ID: 828 3681 0281
The service will be posted on Monday afternoon on First United’s Vimeo channel (where you can access all of our previous worship services).
Donate online at: firstuc.online/donate
First United’s Drive-Thru Nativity
This Christmas season, we are once again inviting the Bloomington community to drive through our church grounds and hear the Christmas story anew as we offer a drive-thru nativity experience December 19th—January 6th. You can find more information in the December newsletter and upcoming announcements. Please Contact Mitchell Farmer if you are interested in helping with set up.
Community Longest Night Service
On Sunday, December 19th, at 6pm, we will hold a hybrid Community Longest Night Service (click here to join via Zoom webinar). We will welcome members of the Bloomington community to join us in our sanctuary for a service of prayer, reflection, and remembrance planned and facilitated by folks from First United, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Bloomington, First Presbyterian Church, and Canterbury House (IU’s Episcopal campus ministry). There will be music, silence, and meditative activities as we hold space for those who are grieving this time of year.
Children’s Learning Time – Volunteers Requested
Kids in kindergarten through 5th grade are welcome to a time of learning, fun, and crafts during the last half of the service. The kids will go to Room 2 with their teachers right after the Children’s Time during the service and may be picked up there (or on the playground, weather permitting) by their adults at the close of worship. Masks and distancing are required. Safety (in general, but specifically regarding the pandemic) is our top priority. Guardians are welcome to visit the classroom!
We would love to have a few adults interested in helping with the classes sign up to help teach on a rotating schedule to enrich the program for the kids. If you are interested but have questions, please reach out to any member of the Board of Education or Derek Roe.
Off-Topic Scripture Circle
Want to read and discuss the week’s scripture readings with friends before church in a casual setting where you will never be asked to leave your brain or your heart at the door? We have the place for you! Those who are interested and able to gather in person are invited to gather in Room 6, and those who would like to join us online via Zoom can do so here. See you Sunday morning, 9am-10am!
Tuesday Morning Café and Discussion
Our Tuesday morning group is half way into a 12-session video lecture series: “History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon” led by biblical scholar Bart Ehrman. This study focuses on how the books of the New Testament were selected and passed down to us as scripture. Join us in person or online at 10am-11:30am each Tuesday for a time of informal conversation followed by thought-provoking theological study and discussion. Previous participation not required. For those interested and able to gather in person, we’ll be in Roger Williams Hall; those wanting to join online via Zoom can do so here.
Wanted: Assistant Treasurer
Our church bylaws state that the Finance Committee should consist of four members: the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, and two members at large. For the past six months, the Finance Committee has been operating without an Assistant Treasurer, which is rather like driving a car with only three wheels. The Assistant Treasurer is not a particularly time-consuming position, but it is an important position for maintaining the church’s financial checks and balances. See the December newsletter for more information, and contact Rebecca Keith or Kyle Hetrick if you are interested in helping to keep the church’s financial operations running smoothly. Thank you for your consideration!
2022 Offering Envelopes and Direct Deposit
For those who would like them, offering envelopes are available on a table outside of the Sanctuary entrance closest to the chancel; 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.
Nursery Care Available and Help Needed
Young children (under age 5) are welcome to spend time on Sundays from 9:15am-11:45am playing in the nursery or on the playground, weather permitting. Our paid caregivers are in the process of being re-certified for CPR and First Aid. Masks are required indoors for all nursery workers, volunteers, and children over age 2 (see the latest church COVID policy for details). One of our paid caregivers has had to resign from the position, so we are currently in search of another qualified adult to add to our staff. Derek Roe is the contact person for nursery scheduling and questions and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai, Senior Minister – email@example.com; 812-727-4414 (Friday & Saturday off; emergency calls only)
- Derek Roe, Assistant Minister for Children & Youth Faith Formation – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lisa Stanger, Office Manager – email@example.com
- Sam Grace, Music Director – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dedric Dennist, Web Content and Media Coordinator – email@example.com
- Rebecca Keith, Church President – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-325-0145 (Cell)