Sunday Morning Worship

Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am (10am Log in). This Sunday’s service will feature Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai in the pulpit and a special music offering from Section Leader Ben St. John.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 946 3570 8633; Passcode: 879535

The service is posted late Sunday afternoon on First United’s Vimeo channel.

Blue Christmas Service
While the holidays are meant to be a joyous time of year, we often find ourselves at our most low and vulnerable during the holidays. All are welcome to join in an evening of prayer and lament during the Blue Christmas service presented by the Indiana-Kentucky Conference (UCC).
When: Tonight, Friday, December 18th at 7:00pm
Where: on Zoom (prior registration is required)
To register or for more information click here

Final Midweek Advent Service

Join us for the final Midweek Advent service—a short service (15-20 min) with readings, prayers, and music—to help you focus on the coming of Jesus into the world. Sign up here to join the last outdoor in-person service in the courtyard on Wednesday, December 23rd @ 12:30pm. Masks required, singing only by soloist.

Christmas Eve Virtual Service

Mark your calendars and plan to celebrate Christmas Eve with your First United family and friends on Thursday, Dec 24th @ 5:00pm. A special offering will be collected to benefit The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (www.poorpeoplescampaign.org). The bulletin will be emailed out next Tuesday. Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here.

First United’s Drive-Thru Nativity

Imagine the innumerable ways the Christmas story has been shared over the last 2,000 years. In 2020, we are inviting the Bloomington community to drive through our church grounds and hear the story anew – safely from their car – now thru January 6th, anytime! Here’s what to expect:

• Enter our drive from Third Street, any time of the day or night

• Get connected: At the start of your visit scan the QR code (use a QR app or your phone camera) or load firstuc.online/nativity in your phone’s web browser.

• OR Pick up a written copy of the messages from the flyer box before the first stop

• Stop at each of five scenes featuring key moments from the biblical stories surrounding the birth of Jesus.

• For each scene, you will have a scripture reference, a brief exploration of the biblical story and familiar carol. Each scene will also have a moment especially for children.

• Deepen your experience by listening to a short meditation by First United’s Senior Minister Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai.

• Drive through as many times as you like, and invite your friends and neighbors to stop by as well.

Candlelight and Carols

In case you missed our special Candlelight and Carols service last Sunday, December 13th, you are encouraged to light your candles and experience the service via our Vimeo channel. This service combines readings, musical offerings and prayers that invite worshippers to once more consider the inbreaking of God through the birth of Jesus. Donations are still being accepted to benefit My Sister’s Closet, the recipient of this year’s special offering.


Reaching Out by Mail

The Committee on Community Development would like to encourage you to reach out to church friends. How about sending a Christmas card through the mail? Let folks know you miss seeing them or just send a day-brightener greeting.  

Need a directory? Contact Lisa in the office: info@firstuc.org or (812-332-4439) to request a printed or e-mailed copy of the directory.

If you need ideas of who might really enjoy receiving snail mail, contact Laura Kao (Team Cards) or Sarah Burton (Ministers of Care): laura_b_kao@hotmail.com or burtonsp@indiana.edu

Reverse Advent

This Christmas season, join us is a Reverse Advent practice, where, for each day in Advent, an item is set aside to donate to mark the days that lead up to Christmas. We suggest donations to the Job Success Basket at My Sister’s Closet (MSC). MSC gives women assistance through every step of their job search process, to help them build confidence and succeed. Some items they could use:

  • SPF Lip balm
  • 2-pocket presentation folders
  • Lint rollers
  • Non-alcoholic mouthwash – small bottles for individual use
  • Deodorant – small containers for individual use
  • Support socks
  • Baby/personal wipes for cleaning up
  • Hotel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes
  • Emery Boards, Tweezers, nail clippers

During Advent: Drop items off at My Sister’s Closet, 414 S College Ave (Tues-Fri 10am-6pm, and Sat 10am-5pm). Call 812-333-7710 with questions, and visit www.mysisterscloset.org to learn more about MSC. For pick-up, call Rebecca at 812.345.1116. Please give generously, and click here for more donation ideas.

Food Drive for Humans and Pets

Mark your calendar: Another food drive for humans and pets! Saturday, January 16th, 10am-2pm. Our goal? A record-setting ONE TON of food! Help us get there!

Help is needed to welcome people and assist with the food. Click here to sign up. Masks and social distancing required. Tent and warm building provided if needed.

When shopping, MCUM recommends purchasing items that you or your family would enjoy. You can also consider buying things that would be needed together, for example – purchase spaghetti and spaghetti sauce. Currently, the most needed items are

  • Reusable/Cloth Bags
  • Canned Meat (tuna, chicken, beef)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Dried Pasta
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Cereal
  • Ready to eat soups / chili / pasta
  • Frozen meat (1-2 pound ground beef, whole chickens)
  • Canned vegetables (carrots, greens, potatoes)
  • Checks made out to First United (with MCUM or Area 10 in the memo)

See you on Jan 16th! Thanks in advance! Your Outreach Board

Gifts of Grace

Gifts of Grace is an annual holiday drive that allows community members to give to Positive Link, an IU Health program assisting people living with HIV. Through January 31st, First United will be collecting $20 gift cards to the following stores AND rolls of paper towels and toilet paper:

  • Walmart
  • Kroger
  • Speedway
  • Goodwill
  • Dollar Store
  • Dollar Tree

Checks are also accepted (made out to “First United Church” with a memo of “Gifts of Grace”).

Drop off donations at the church office:

  • January 16th from 10am-2pm (at the food drive)
  • 30 minutes prior to any church service (midweek, Sunday, or Xmas Eve)
  • Mon-Wed-Fri beginning December 28th from 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm (call 812.332.4439 when you arrive for instructions)

Please give as you are able, your Outreach Board

First United’s Special COVID-19 Fund Applications

If you have a relationship with First United Church, you may apply for assistance for economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Contact Sharon McCann at 1041sharon@gmail.com for an application form and instructions to apply for Covid-19-related assistance.


Off-Topic Scripture Circle (formerly Lectionary Discussion)

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! Click below to join us, Sunday mornings 9-10am.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 896 7762 0237; Passcode: 043604

Tuesday Virtual Café and Adult Discussion

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and join us at 10:00am each Tuesday for conversation and a weekly adult discussion group led by Derek Roe. The group is currently exploring the video series Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad presented by Prof. Mark Muesse. We hope to see you there!

Discussions range over many topics, and it’s a great way to keep in touch with church friends during social distancing. We’ll end somewhere between 11:30am and noon.

Join Zoom Meeting clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 309 686 166; Passcode: 399499

Racial Justice Book Club Rescheduled!

The fourth meeting of the Racial Justice Book Club will be Saturday, January 30th, from 2pm-3:30pm over Zoom. We will be discussing the book Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong.  

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.

Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings.” As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. Minor feelings are not small, they’re dissonant—and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her. 

With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche—and of a writer’s search to both uncover and speak the truth.

Jennifer Fultz has also set up a discussion board for the group, so even if you are unable to attend the in-person meetings, there is another way to participate. If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Don Wooldridge at dontylw@gmail.com.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 872 5371 0204; Passcode: 834052


From the COVID-19 Task Force

Sunday church services and most meetings will continue virtually through at least December. The Task Force met on November 10th and with current conditions, advises no changes. A reminder that:

  • social distancing of at least 6 feet is required whenever possible
  • mask use (covering the nose and mouth) by those age two and up is required on the church grounds (outside) when social distancing proves difficult or when requested by an event organizer
  • mask use by those age two and up required at all times within the building unless alone in a non-public (ex: office, classroom) space in the building
  • mask use is required for official church events both inside and outside the building

Deadlines for Announcements and Newsletter

If you would like an announcement included in this weekly church email, please have your item to Lisa Stanger by noon on the Wednesday prior to its release.

If you would like to contribute an article to the January edition of “First News,” please send your information to Lisa by 9am on Monday, December 28th.

Upcoming Office Closures

The church office will be closed December 21st-25th due to Lisa Stanger’s vacation days and the Christmas holiday. Please send any announcements to Mary Peckham, and contact Rev. Petersen-Mutai or Mary Peckham if you need assistance during this time.

“Bring Forth” Stewardship Drive

While our 2021 Stewardship Pledge Drive officially wrapped up in November, helping us formulate our 2021 budget going forward, pledges and giving are gratefully accepted year-round. You can give by two methods, returning a pledge card, or pledging online using this link: https://tinyurl.com/1stUC21pledge  We are grateful for your support at any level, and hope to hear from everyone in the congregation. 

Rev. Petersen-Mutai’s Contact Info

You may have heard that someone has created a fake gmail email account claiming to be Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai. Please do not respond to any email that seems to be sent from her asking for “a favor.” The matter is being addressed, and you may once again contact her by email at revpetersenmutai@firstuc.org or by phone/text at 812-727-4414.