- Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
- Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Mondays @ 10am (no meeting 01/01); Join Zoom Meeting here
- Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am;Join Zoom Meeting here
- Scripture Reader sign up – Click here
- Usher sign up – Click here (needed 12/31, 01/07, & 01/14)
- 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
The church office will be closed throughout the rest of the week 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!
This 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 email@example.com.
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.
NEW/UPDATED THIS WEEK
Feminist Women’s Book Club
Our feminist women’s book club usually meets after worship on the second Sunday of the month in Roger Williams Hall and via Zoom. We are women who have a lively discussion starting at 12noon, for about an hour. We read recent fiction “by women, for women or about women.” Members are equally split among women from our church and the community. Feminist women of all ages are invited to join us. Our January 14th book selection is “Surviving Savannah” by Patti Callahan. Check out our book club’s Pinterest listing: http://pinterest.com/reginammoore/feminist-book-club/. For Zoom information or more information about the book club contact facilitator Cindy Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Our Finance Committee
If you are interested in the operations that allow us to carry out the work and ministry of First United in Bloomington and beyond, or if you like working behind the scenes, you are encouraged to consider joining our Finance Committee. You do not have to be a CPA or have an MBA! Finance Committee members participate in monthly meetings and may help with simple tasks like taking meeting minutes or assisting with counting and depositing the offering every couple of weeks. Terms are year-to-year, so this does not need to be a long-term commitment. If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering, please reach out to Kyle Hetrick, Mitchell Farmer, or Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai.
First United houses the People’s Cooperative Market in our Fellowship Hall each Saturday, 10:00am-2:00pm. The People’s Market is an intersectional anti-racism farmers market and artisan vendor space that focuses on food justice work. They also operate their own pantry called People’s Open Pantry (POP), a zero-barrier pantry at New Leaf, on Saturdays, 11:00am-1:00pm. And, food is always made available to anyone in need during market hours as well.
All are welcome to attend the Saturday markets and/or order from their online CSA for pickup or delivery. People’s Market regularly welcomes new vendors and farmers, so be sure to check them out each week! Note: The in-person market will not be offered January 13th through February 3rd.
Sunday Morning Hybrid Worship
Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am. This Sunday’s service will feature a variety of readings inviting us to dwell in the Christmas season and consider the year ahead as we close out 2023. Eric Meincke and Hansol Kim will lead us in singing beloved songs of the season, both sacred and secular. 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. Be sure to join us in Fellowship Hall BEFORE the service for a New Year’s breakfast celebration hosted by Malissa Sparks; there will be no coffee hour following the service.
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 January 4th and 11th).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.
First United’s Drive-Thru Nativity
This Advent/Christmas season, we have once again invited 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 and January First News newsletters.
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 on 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.
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 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 Molly Koontz 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.
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.
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)