Based on the latest Monroe County data and weighing the impact in our local community, all church activities, including worship, will be offered online only. We hope to return to in-person activities on Sunday, February 6

UPCOMING WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

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 Wayne Allen. Derek Roe will invite us to think a bit more about “star gifts” (see below), and we will celebrate communion together (please prepare a “nibble” and a “sip” for you and yours to share at home).

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.

Star Gifts for Epiphany

The season of Epiphany can easily go by unnoticed and unheralded. However, this year, you are encouraged to experience this season between Christmas and Lent in a new and meaningful way as you receive a “star gift.” A star gift is simply a star-shaped piece of brightly colored paper with a word printed on it. If we were able to gather in-person, every person who would come to church on Epiphany Sunday, January 3rd, would receive such a star gift. However, as we continue to care for one another by not gathering in our building, you are encouraged to contact Rev. Petersen-Mutai (revpetersenmutai@firstuc.org or 812-727-4414) to receive your word (which will be randomly selected from a list of 150 possible words) and make your own star gift. Once you have received your word, you are invited to reflect on that word for the duration of Epiphany and, if you are so willing, throughout the entire year. You are invited to ponder what significance your word might have in your life and how God might be speaking to you through that simple message. Note: it helps to place your star gift in a location that you come across regularly (ex. the bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, etc.).

First United’s Drive-Thru Nativity

Imagine the innumerable ways the Christmas story has been shared over the last 2,000 years. For Christmastide 2020/2021, 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.

Miss a Service?

In case you missed our Christmas Eve and/or Candlelight and Carols services, you are encouraged to find a candle and experience these services via our Vimeo channel. These services combine 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 The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (www.poorpeoplescampaign.org), the recipient of this year’s Christmas Eve special offering.

FAITHFUL FINANCES

Budget Hearing, January 10

An update on the church’s projected income and expense budget for 2021 will be held via Zoom on Sunday, January 10th. After the Sunday morning service ends, just stay on the Zoom. After 10-15 minutes of the usual coffee hour conversation, we will transition into a Q&A time regarding the projected budget. A draft of the budget will be sent as part of the weekly announcements next Friday, January 8th.

Pledge Commitments for 2021

Thank you to the 62 people/households who so far have pledged a total of $193,400 towards the 2021 budget! We are still accepting pledges in hopes of increasing the income we can count on to support our operations, programs, and ministries in 2021. If you have not pledged yet, please do so now if possible. We can send you another pledge card, you can e-mail your pledge to Lisa in the church office (info@firstuc.org), or you can fill out our online form at https://tinyurl.com/1stUC21pledge. Thank you for your support!

Special Offering for My Sister’s Closet

We collected over $250 for My Sister’s Closet (MSC) from the Candlelight and Carols special service offering. While this special offering ended in December, MSC is still accepting donations directly, both financial donations and beauty supply/toiletry donations. (Please do not donate any clothes at this time; MSC has collected more clothes during the pandemic than it has a place to store!) Also, please note that the website address for My Sister’s Closet was mis-printed in the announcements recently; the correct address is: https://SistersCloset.org. And, be sure to see the January edition of “First News” for another opportunity to support MSC’s important work in our community.

CONNECTION AND CARE

Reverse Advent

This Christmas season join us in a Reverse Advent practicewhere, 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 https://sisterscloset.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.

EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS

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: 895 0519 1798; Passcode: 624328

Racial Justice Book Club

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

UPDATES ON FIRST UNITED OPERATIONS AND ACTIVITIES

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.

Upcoming Office Closures

The church office is closed today, New Year’s Day, due to the holiday. Please contact Rev. Petersen-Mutai or Mary Peckham if you need assistance.

Rev. Petersen-Mutai’s Contact Info

You are welcome to reach out to Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai should you be in need of pastoral care or simply want to say “hello.” You may contact her by email at revpetersenmutai@firstuc.org or by phone/text at 812-727-4414.