• 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 12/31)
  • Usher sign up – Click here (12/17, 12/24 (am & pm), and 12/31)
  • Flowers sign up – Click here
  • Coffee Hour Host sign up – Click here (12/31)
  • Communion Server sign up –Click here
  • Donate to First United Online – Click here
  • First United Vimeo Channel – Click here


Newsletter and Announcements Deadlines

The First News deadline is TODAY, 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 either next week’s or the following week’s announcements (December 22nd and 29th, respectively), please have your item to Lisa Stanger by noon on Wednesday, December 20th.

Christmas Angel Tree

Thank you to all who have taken up the Board of Outreach’s invitation to share some holiday joy this Christmas by providing gifts for three Thriving Connections families! If you selected a tag(s) with a gift to shop for, please return the wrapped gift(s) to the church building by THIS Sunday, December 17th so they may be delivered to the families before Christmas.

Congregational Meeting

Following the December 3rd budget hearing, Church Council has taken the congregation’s questions and suggestions under advisement to prepare a final budget (access by clicking here) to be presented and voted on during our regular Congregational Meeting immediately after worship THIS 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. Quorum will be called at 11:40am. 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 (leynon73@icloud.com or (812) 336-1219). Thank you!


Death in Our Church Family

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the death of Marcia Stalnaker (b. March 10, 1939) on Friday, December 8, 2023. We send our love and sympathy to Aaron Stalnaker, Kirsten Sword, and their extended family. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

A Cozy Christmas/New Year’s Eve Celebration & Breakfast!

On Sunday, December 31st at 10:30am, pull on your favorite Christmas sweater, dress up in your fancy New Year’s garb, or don your holiday pjs, and join your First United family for a casual, cozy, festive service as we continue to celebrate the season of Christmas and prepare to welcome the new year. Together we’ll share a time of storytelling and song celebrating the joy of community and gift of God’s unbounded love. And, be sure to come a bit early for breakfast in Fellowship Hall at 9:30am and enjoy some good foods and New Year’s Eve cheer! For breakfast questions, email Rebecca at rekeith@iu.edu.

Messages of Hope

As we approach this Christmas season with hope, one of our sibling congregations in the Indiana-Kentucky Conference, Plymouth Congregational UCC in Ft. Wayne, invites us to join them in writing and sharing messages of hope with our Christian siblings in Bethlehem during this hard time in their midst. Plymouth has begun a partnership with the Wi’am Center in Bethlehem, and their executive director, Zoughbi Zoughbi, has indicated that Christians in Bethlehem are feeling isolated and alone and could really use spiritual support and solidarity from their siblings in Christ around the world.

To that end, Plymouth is inviting us as members of congregations within the Indiana-Kentucky Conference to write short messages of hope and solidarity to their Christian siblings in Bethlehem. These are not political messages, but rather, they are messages to strengthen the spirits of our Palestinian siblings in their faith during these very difficult times. It can be a few short sentences or a paragraph that you send, and Plymouth will place your message with all the others across the conference and send them to our Christian siblings in Bethlehem.

Please send your completed message to the Rev. Sara Ofner Seals no later than Wednesday, December 20th at smo@plymouthfw.org. Thank you for your deep love and care for our siblings in Christ in these tumultuous times.


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. Eric Sader will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead, and Vickey Allen and James Stroman will lead us in lighting the third candle of Advent (the Candle of Joy). Dave Meyer will offer a Mission Moment to share about the joys experienced and extended through the Displaced Immigrant Support Program. Eric Meincke and Hansol Kim will lead us in song, and the First United Children’s Choir, Sam Troxal, and Michael Varilla will offer special music. Dave Meyer and Molly Koontz 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 Lewis and Patty Williams in memory of Arnita Petre. 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 the Congregational Meeting (immediately following 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

Choir Rehearsals

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 ericdmeincke@gmail.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 (click here) as we experience anew 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. Click here to check out and share a digital flyer on our Facebook page.

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 now January 6th. (Contact Mitchell Farmer if you are interested in helping with clean 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” (click here).
  • 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

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)
  • Christopher Meincke (Eric’s brother)
  • Michael Shell
  • Jeanne and Norm Overly

DISP Update

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 (dwm@davemeyer.org) or Hopi Stosberg (hopi@stosberg.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 Emily Mathes and Noel Koontz 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.

Nursery Care

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 Mary Peckham 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.


Office Closed

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.

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).

Contact Information