- Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
- Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Mondays @ 10am (no meeting 12/25 or 01/01); Join Zoom Meeting here
- Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am (no meeting 12/26);Join Zoom Meeting here
- Scripture Reader sign up – Click here (needed 12/31)
- Usher sign up – Click here (needed 12/24 (pm), 12/31, & 01/07)
- Flowers sign up – Click here
- Coffee Hour Host sign up – Click here (needed 01/07)
- Communion Server sign up –Click here (needed 01/07)
- Donate to First United Online – Click here
- First United Vimeo Channel – Click here
Christmas Eve Worship
Celebrate Christmas Eve with your First United family and friends this 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.
The church office will be closed the week of Christmas (beginning December 25th) and on Monday, January 1st with Pastor Jessica and Lisa away for the holidays. Jessica will be back in worship on Sunday, December 31st. Please contact Kim Yaussy Albright (December 25th-29th), Pastor Jessica (December 30th), and Mitchell Farmer (January 1st) with any emergent needs.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW/UPDATED THIS WEEK
Thank you to all who attended the December 17th Congregational Meeting. During the meeting, our congregation voted to approve the budget presented for 2024 (access by clicking here). You are encouraged to offer your financial gifts to support this budget as we begin the new year and will be invited to thoughtfully, prayerfully, intentionally consider how you will commit to supporting First United’s ministries as we engage in our formal stewardship season in February 2024.
End of the Year Contributions
Some members and friends of our faith community like to make charitable contributions at the end of the year, either to fulfill a pledge or make an additional gift for 2023, or to pre-pay a pledge for 2024. Please note that per IRS guidelines, in order to be eligible for a 2023 tax deduction:
– donations delivered directly to the church must be received by December 31
– credit card donations must be initiated before 11:59 PM on December 31
– mailed checks must be postmarked by the USPS on or before December 30
– stock donations or wire transfers must be completed by December 29 Because the church office will be closed between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, you should reach out to Kyle Hetrick if you wish to hand-deliver any donations outside of the December 24 or December 31 Sunday offering. Any donations delivered after that date we cannot count for 2023 (unless they are mailed and postmarked by December 30 as mentioned above), and they will instead count for 2024.
Pizza and Play
Members and friends of First United of all ages and family configurations (and your friends and family) are encouraged to gather for Pizza & Play on Friday, January 5th, 5:30pm-7:30pm. We’ll enjoy a time of informal, unprogrammed fun and fellowship in Fellowship Hall and on our playground. As the name implies, pizza and drinks will be provided. If you’re planning to attend, please let Pastor Jessica know by Thursday, January 4th so she can be sure to have enough food for all and account for any dietary 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. Sara Cole will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead, and together we will light the fourth candle of Advent (the Candle of Love). Dave Meyer will offer a Mission Moment and invite our generous support of the Displaced Immigrant Support Program through a special offering. Eric Meincke and Hansol Kim will lead us in song, and the First United Vocal Choir will offer special music. Bill Perkins, Dave Meyer, and Keith Gerber 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 Jim and Marge Faber. 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 for a time of fellowship and refreshment hosted by Malissa Sparks.
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 (no rehearsals on December 28th or January 4th and 11th).And, the Vocal Choir rehearses on Thursdays, 7:30pm-9pm, in the Choir Room (no rehearsal on December 28th). If you are interested in joining or have any questions, please contact Eric Meincke at email@example.com.
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 thru 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)
- 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. There will be no meeting December 25th or January 1st.
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. There will be no meeting December 26th.
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. There will be no CLT on December 24th or 31st.
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 leftover 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 are available 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)