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February 2010 Epistle

February 2010 Epistle

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Published by Skeeter Harris

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Published by: Skeeter Harris on Feb 19, 2010
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Volume 15 Issue 2 FEBRUARY 25, 2010
On March 7 and 14 donations will be receivedfor “One Great Hour of Sharing”. This hasbeen a great tradition in our church for fivedecades. Once a year our denominationalong with eight other denominations collectsmoney for use among the poor and needyworldwide. This has been one of the mainways our church has been able to reach outwith God’s mission beyond our localcommunity.Funds collected are used in 80 nations ingeneral areas: sustaining communities,disaster relief, and for refugees. Sixty percentof the funds are used for sustainingcommunities which involves fighting hunger,disease, illiteracy with healthcare, education,and agricultural development. UCC aloneraises $3 annually through “One Great Hourof Sharing”. Please help sustain thiswonderful tradition with a generous gift.Checks should be made out to “FirstCongregational Church” with a designationOGHS. They can be placed in the offeringplates for mailed to the church office. Thankyou for your support.
Lent began yesterday, Ash Wednesday. Fortydays and forty nights, as the hymn puts it, leadus into the wilderness with Jesus as he movestoward the cross. Lent prepares us for the“Great Three Days”, Maundy Thursday, GoodFriday and the Vigil of Easter.On Maundy Thursday, we gather at 7:30 PM forTenebrae, a service of shadows, as we move,through readings and the extinguishing of lights,toward the cross. On Good Friday, we gather atnoon for the “Way of the Cross” walk in thevillage and then for a service of prayer at 7:30PM. These two services help us to center onwhat the core of our faith is all about: God’s lovein Jesus Christ. They also prepare us for the joyof Easter Day.Just as Jesus began his ministry in the desert; aplace with no frills or distractions, so Lent offersus forty days to get away from the usual and tofocus on the essential. This is good spiritualdiscipline for us as we seek to be more faithfulfollowers of Jesus Christ.For the third time, Jean and I have just returnedfrom Silver Day where we spent four days ofquiet and rest. It is a place of retreat. It is a timeof renewal as we prepare for Lent. Thiswonderful ministry is offered to pastors andother church workers free of charge and it isindeed a blessing. We returned refreshed. Itwas just what we needed.On the First Sunday in Lent, we sang as ourhymn of gathering, Marva Dawn’s wonderful“Come Away from Rush and Hurry”. It was a
perfect commentary on the importance of takingtime to renew our spiritual lives and to focus onthe reason for our being. I urge you to take thewords to heart as you move quietly andpurposefully into this Lenten time.
“Come away from rush and hurry to thestillness of God’s peace;from our vain ambition’s worry, come to Christto find release.Come away from noise and clamor, life’sdemands and frenzied pace;Come to join the people gathered here to seekand find God’s face.”
-WORDS: Marva J. Dawn (1948-)Take the time each Sunday to be with othersgathered “to seek and find God’s face.”Your pastor,
John John John John 
February 28: Second Sunday in Lent 
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18Psalm 27Philippians 3:17-4:1Luke 13:31-35
March 7: Third Sunday in Lent 
Isaiah 55:1-9Psalm 63:1-8I Corinthians 10:1-13Luke 13:1-9
“Suffering”March 14: Fourth Sunday in Lent
Joshua 5:9-12Psalm 322 Corinthians 5:16-21Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
March 21: Fifth Sunday in Lent 
Isaiah 43:16-21Psalm 126Philippians 3:4b-14John 12:1-8
March 28: Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday 
Choral Service
SUNDAY MORNINGSFebruary 28, March 7 & 14 – Historyof Lent and Lenten Practices
Pastor Cedarleaf will share with us the history ofthe Lenten season, as well as Lenten practices.
March 21 & 28 – TBD
The Wednesday morning class will become a“Lenten Small Group” and will meet at 10:30 – noon, instead of the usual 11 a.m. start time.Classes are held in the Snow Room.
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With the Lenten season now in full swing, ourBoard of Missions has been busy making plans tosupport three local agencies based on our themeof “Breaking the Cycle of Violence.” The agenciesinclude Determined Divas, Lewis Street YMCA,and Rochester Youth for Christ. Determined Divasprovides counseling, mentoring services andworkshops for teenage girls in the city ofRochester who are seeking positive alternatives totheir current lifestyles. Lewis Street YMCAprovides day care for toddlers and after schoolcare for school age children in downtownRochester. Rochester Youth For Christ providesmentoring and spiritual guidance for youth in theWest Main Street area (see article below).Representatives from all three groups joined us atour worship service on February 7
. At theconclusion of their presentations, the congregationgave them a warm round of applause.For Determined Divas we are soliciting gifts ofpersonal hygiene for young women who cannotafford these products. The Lewis Street YMCA isasking assistance in refinishing child’s cubbiesand later on help building some storage facilities.Saturday February 20
a group of us will beheading down to RYFC to scope out some smallscale building projects. (Feel free to join us at 9:30am in the church parking lot).It is appropriate that this month’s featuredorganization the Board of Missions supports isnone other than Rochester Youth For Christ, oneof the groups that we are supporting during Lent.Rochester Youth For Christ (RYFC) is located at 1Favor Street, Rochester, NY (near West MainStreet) in the former RIT gymnasium. The missionof RYFC is to provide mentoring and spiritualguidance to the youth of the West Main Streetarea.RYFC strives to meet its mission through threeprograms. The first program is an active Saturdaymorning basketball league. Participants of thebasketball program are required to attend a smallgroup discussion during the week where they areprovided a dinner and participate in discussion oflife and spiritual issues. Another successfulprogram is Bethel Express where children have ahearty Saturday morning breakfast, get to playand have fellowship time. RYFC also providesthe children with mentors and time to worshipcentered on music and singing. As an aside thechildren of Bethel Express have indicated aninterest in singing at one of our Sunday worshipservices. A third program is SuccessfulPathways which is designed for teenage girlswho have children, are pregnant or who are atrisk for pregnancy. Successful Pathwaysprovides mentoring and a social work service foreach participant.About 80% of funding for RYFC comes primarilyfrom private donations. The other 20% comesfrom local churches. Geoff Smith is the director,and can be reached at 256-5050 or atwww.yfcrochester.org. Dee Jackson is ourMission Board liaison to RYFC and hassubmitted this month’s information regardingRYFC.Submitted byTed Avgerinos, Board of Missions Chair
Morning Circle will meet on Tuesday, March9 at 10 AM. A representative from Daystarwill tell us about this facility that cares forinfants and children whose developmentalhandicaps are too great for them to remainat home.
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