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Glad Tidings

The Newsletter of Central St. Matthew UCC September, 2011

“Take Off Your Bib…”
Over the last weekend in August, I, along with two Central St. Matthew members, attended an inspiring and challenging workshop held here at Central St. Matthew, led by the Reverends Mike Piazza and Susan Mitchell from the Center for Progressive Renewal. Members from several of our New Orleans area sibling United Church of Christ congregations and folks from Greater New Orleans First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) gathered together to hear some hard truths about our congregational health and vitality, national church trends, and the ways in which our present ways of doing ministry and “doing church” are only leading us further down the path to sunset. However, all was not gloom and doom, for - - as we were reminded and must remember - - we are a resurrection people! All is not lost, by any means. We are invited to re-create, re-vision, and renew our ministries and our relationships with Christ. The ways in which we are challenged to do this is not through mere superficial changes - - simply adding multimedia, a new song, or a new slogan. The changes that come from evaluation and renewal must be an authentic reflection of the congregation’s core values. Rev. Piazza suggested that it is the task of the church to do three basic functions, and to do them well: Worship, Outreach, and Small Groups. Right now, I think we are hitting only one of the three respectably well, and even there, we could use some tweaking. But what should guide us as we look to the future of how we all “do church” together? We should look to our core values. As Christians, our primary task, chief among our core values, is to serve. Who is being served and who is doing the serving when it comes to our worship, outreach, and small groups? Rev. Piazza recounted the story of a clergy friend of his who was greeting visitors after a Sunday worship service. A man approached him and explained that he was seeking a new church because his former church was “no longer feeding him.” In reply, the pastor challenged the visitor: “Well, maybe you need to take off your bib and put on your apron!” Yikes! How many of us come to worship on Sundays as consumers, hungry and expecting to be fed? I know that I have thought this way for a long time, I’ve heard it from plenty of others, and I still seek to “feed” the folks who fill the pews for worship. This is not always the wrong way to go or the wrong thing to seek. The work of a faithful person can be burdensome and draining, and we require refreshment and renewal. Worship should provide that, in my opinion. However, I have to agree with the sentiment that we need to stop looking to be fed and seek ways to feed others. This is not just the work of the pastor, the deacons, the E-Team, or the Social Action Committee. No, we should all be about finding ways to serve and feed others - - often literally.

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Update …
At what point does the bib come off and the apron go on? Can we switch back and forth sometimes? To address this, let us think of someone visiting our church. Who knows, but for them, what has led them to worship with us? Whose task is it to make certain that this visitor is recognized as a visitor? Who is supposed to reach out a hand and say hello? Who will find out their name and invite them to fellowship time? The pastor? The usher? If you answered with “Me!” then, congratulations, you have moved from bib to apron! Maybe, some Sunday, it is (in the words of one of my favorite spirituals) you who are “standing in the need of prayer.” Maybe today you need to dig out your bib and put it back on. And that’s OK. But, you don’t need to take off your apron to fit on that bib, for it is in serving that so often we are served. Peace,

Rebuilding & Renewing: Our Monthly Update Dear Members & Friends of Central St. Matthew UCC, As you might have read in our August newsletter, a plan and process are underway to “rebuild & renew” our Bienville and Carrollton properties (Central and St. Matthew) and examine what ministries will best serve the neighborhoods at both sites. As outlined in last month’s lead article, this work is being undertaken by a Steering Committee and four sub-committees. The total number of folks directly involved with this work is around 25 people, making this a full third of our average weekly worship attendance. This is one way in which we, as a Steering Committee, are broadly seeking input and involvement from the congregation. In addition to the direct input from folks serving on the various committees, we will be soliciting input through a survey. This will most likely be distributed in our October newsletter, but might also be available to complete electronically. If we go the electronic route, we could set up computers for members to access the survey on Sundays. At this point, each of the sub-committees that will hold regular meetings (Finance, Property, Social Justice) have met. The Steering Committee has met twice and will meet again throughout September. On August 14, members of the subcommittees were invited to an informational session following worship. At this gathering, the Steering Committee presented a set of guidelines, drafted as a

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Update cont’d …
covenant, which has been recommended for use by the sub-committees. This document, along with the list of committee members and job descriptions for each committee, is posted in the lobby of the Carrollton Campus. What ministries and services would you like to see Central St. Matthew undertake? What are your hopes and dreams for our buildings? This monumental effort will take the prayers, passion, and financial contributions of every member and friend of this congregation. Please prayerfully consider what role you would like to play in the future of Central St. Matthew UCC. On behalf of the Steering Committee, Peace, Rev. Chris Mereschuk

On September 17th there will be a planning and review meeting. Members of all boards and committees are encouraged to attend. We need representation from every board and committee at Central St. Matthew so that we may be able to plan for the coming months with everyone’s ideas and comments. Below is the schedule for the day. 9:00 am to noon – planning for the next year and envisioning what we can do in the way of programming. Noon till 1:00 pm – Lunch and fellowship. All are asked to bring a brown bag lunch. Drinks and goodies will be provided. 1:00 pm till 3:00 pm – Review of our Constitution and By-laws. With a year and a half under our belt under our new Constitution and By-laws it is felt we need to do a review and discuss how things are working and if we need to make any adjustments in how we do things. This is open to all leaders and board and committee members and we encourage you to stay for this important part of the day. I look forward to spending the day with you. Arlean Fermanis We are sorry to inform you that Dorothea Boldt, faithful member of CSM, passed away last week. Condolences may be sent to her daughter: Amy Miller, 1300 Pleasant St. NOLA 70115.

Leadership Planning and Review Meeting Saturday, September 17, 2011

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Vital Signs
Financial Update: The budget for the year 2011 is approximately $280,824 and therefore calls for us to collect an average of $23,402 per month to meet our expense and outreach obligations. As of the end of August, this would amount to about $187,216. Between our tithes, offerings and rental income, we have received approximately $174,292 for the eight months ending August 2011. Thank you for your generous gifts, tithes and offerings in support of our church’s ministry and outreach. By the way, please make all checks payable to Central St. Matthew UCC. Credit for cash donations will be given when money is in an envelope, identified, and designated. Envelopes are provided on the Welcome Table and/or from the ushers. If you have any questions, please see Carol or Dale.

Prayer List
Please continue to pray for: -Gary and Karen Arndt -Kyle Carter -Louis Carambat -Melvin Chaix -Ethel Creel -Nellie Crump -Michael Englebracht -Eddie Gebhardt -Mary Graves -Lavera Kelly -Amy Miller -Curry Miller -Catherine Reigert -Verna Sileci -Peter Saunders -Ernest & Mathilde Smith -Dan Zidaru

-the families of Brian Resor, and George Joseph Miller, Monica Shay, Cristi Grigoras, and Dorothea Boldt.

The Southern Regional Meeting of UCC Women is fast approaching. This year the meeting will be held October 7-9, 2011 at Blowing Rock Conference Center, in Blowing Rock NC. The theme of the weekend is A Faith Inspired Look Toward Wholeness, with keynote speaker Ms. Barbara Baylor, MPH, Minister for Health Care Justice from the National Setting. The bible study leader is Rev. Dian Jackson from Rockingham NC. Workshops, Bible study, worship and free time activities are focused on health and wellness. Details about cost, housing and travel arrangements are available in the registration forms. Registration deadline is September 14, 2011. Maureen Coe is the SCC registrar. Registration forms are available at the SCCUCC office 713-647-9204; or by contacting Maureen Coe at 830-832-2206;


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For the Flock …

SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK The commodity for the month of September is CANNED VEGETABLES. Please remember your donations on Sunday.

Central St. Matthew Sermons-to-Go! Announcing the CSM Sermon Podcasts!

Listen to the Good News from Central St. Matthew UCC on your iPod, mp3 Player, or on your computer! Announcing the launch of the CSM Sermon Podcast Series - - a new way to listen to and share words of inspiration and meditation from our Sunday services. What is a Podcast? Podcasts are free, downloadable audio recordings. New “episodes” will be published (“posted”) weekly. Presently, we are Podcasting our sermons, but future episodes could include special musical selections, bible studies, or other events. How Do I Listen? The Podcast episode can be downloaded to a portable mp3 player (such as an iPod), or you can listen to it on your computer from the websites below. Where can I find the CSM Podcast? To find our Podcasts, you can go to or listen on our website: If you use Apple’s iTunes music management program, open up the iTunes store and enter “central st matthew ucc” in the search field. To download the iTunes program for free, visit: You can then “subscribe” to our Podcast, and new episodes will be downloaded automatically as they are posted! Questions? Contact Chris Mereschuk for more information!

Publication Deadlines If you have something to submit for our newsletter or bulletin,
please note these deadlines: Sunday Bulletin Thursdays @ 9am Monthly Newsletter 15th of the Month @ 9am Please send all submissions via email to Ms. Lisa McKnight:

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For the Flock …
Want to Become a Member of Central St. Matthew? Feeling called to formally join our community of faith? Please join our Pastor, Chris Mereschuk, for a Prospective Member Gathering following worship on Sunday, September 25 from 11:30am – 12:30pm in the library. We’ll discuss what it means to be a member of a United Church of Christ congregation, find out a bit more about our church, get to know one another a bit more, and consider the ways in which you might want to be involved. On Sunday, October 16 at 10am, we will welcome new members during our special worship service marking the second anniversary of Central Congregational and St. Matthew UCC joining in covenant. Prospective Member Gathering Sunday, September 25 from 11:30am – 12:30pm in the library. New Member Sunday Sunday, October 16 @ 10am (Worship Service) For more information or to RSVP for the Prospective Member Gathering, please contact Pastor Chris via email ( or by phone (504861-8196).

Greetings Church Family! It was great seeing everyone who could make it to General Synod in Tampa and it was meeting our wonderful new pastor Chris Mereschuk. After leaving Florida I spent some time in Chicago. While there, I took a summer class at MeadvilleLombard Seminary on African American humanist theology. I have a feeling that this semester will be very hectic. I am taking Pastoral Theology and Care, Liturgy, Greek Readings, and a directed study on the historical Jesus with Dr. Allen Callahan, a visiting professor and one of the premier scholars in the field. Also, I will be working as student clergy at MCC of Greater Saint Louis probably doing a little bit of everything. I truly appreciate the prayers and support I have received over the past two years. The cards received in the mail and phone calls help me to remember that I’m not in this by myself. Seminary is a hard journey but through the time I have spent with you all at CSM reminds me of our successes and that with God’s help and your love I will make it. I miss you all dearly, and hope to see you all soon. Peace and Love, Sloan

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For the Flock …
The first combined Vacation Bible School was held on August 1-5 with four churches participating--St. Charles Avenue Baptist, Central St. Matthew UCC, Carrollton Avenue Methodist, and Metairie United Methodist Church. The event, which was held at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, featured a UCC curriculum, "God's Love is Everywhere". Each day's activities, Bible lesson, music, games, snacks, and crafts, focused on a different country. Special thanks to all CSM volunteers who gave of their time and talents to help make VBS a success. Nancy Marks (games, Bible lessons), Noel Braning (crafts), and Rev. Chris (publicity) were involved in the planning process, along with representatives of the other participating churches. The invaluable help of our daily volunteers during the week of VBS--Ellen Bentz, Lynn Bohne, Margene Minor, and Marsha Quick, was deeply appreciated. Thank you, too, to CSM for financial support from the Mattie Braden Fund, Curry Miller, Shirley Carambat, and Bettye Smith. The combined VBS provided an enjoyable and meaningful experience for all of the children who attended. We look forward to future activities with our Christian neighbors. Mission Impossible? Several Sundays ago Sylvia Warren, chair of the Social Action and Mission committee, introduced an exciting challenge for CSM. The United Church of Christ is launching Mission: 1, an effort during the eleven days from 11/1/11 to 11/11/11 * to collect as a denomination one million healthy food items for distribution to member churches’ food banks, * to contribute $111,250 to Neighbors in Need and to address famine in the Horn of Africa, * and to send 11,000 letters to Congress asking legislators to take seriously hunger in our nation and around the world. Rather than wait until 11/1/11, we at CSM want to make sure this denominational goal is not an impossible mission. We want to get started now. What should be our church’s goals for the number of food items collected, money raised, and letters sent? On Sunday Sept. 11 we will give each of you a chance to help set our goals. So that you remember to purchase one or more items each time you shop, we will give each CSM household a CSM Food Bank List refrigerator magnet to help you remember what to buy. In the meantime we welcome donations of paper bags with handles, empty or with food inside. P.S. Thanks to you, we delivered 125 lbs. of peanut butter in the last two weeks to Second Harvest.

Central St. Matthew UCC

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Mailing Address: 1333 S. Carrollton Ave. New Orleans, LA 70118 Phone: (504) 861-8196 Fax: (504) 861-8197 E-Mail:

Sunday, September 11th Tuesday, September 13th Wednesday, September 14th Friday, September 16th Lounge Saturday, September 17th Sunday, September 18th

● Bible Study, 11:30am – 12:00pm CSM Library ● Neighborhood Gathering 4pm-6pm Home of the Plummers’ ● I to I, 9:00am-12:00pm Classroom ● Board of Deacons Meeting 6:00pm – 8:00pm CSM ● Choir Rehearsal, 7:00pm – 8:30pm Sanctuary ● Church Women United 10:00am – 10:30am ● AA Meeting, 8:30am –9:30am CSM Library ● Leadership Gathering 9:00am-2:00pm TBA ● Worship 10:00am- 11:00am ● Bible Study, 11:30am – 12:00pm CSM Library ●I to I, 9:00am-12:00pm Classroom ●Board of Trustees Meeting 6:00pm – 7:00pm CSM ● Board of Christian Education 6:30pm – 7:30pm ● Choir Rehearsal, 7:00pm – 8:30pm Sanctuary ● AA Meeting, 8:30am –9:30am CSM Library ● Worship 10:00am- 11:00am ● Bible Study, 11:30am – 12:00pm CSM Library ● Prospective Member Gathering 11:30am-12:30pm ●I to I, 9:00am-12:00pm Classroom ●Governing Council Meeting CSM Library ● Choir Rehearsal, 7:00pm – 8:30pm Sanctuary

Church Office Manager: Ms. Lisa McKnight Office Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10:30 am to 2:30 pm Pastor: Rev. Christopher Mereschuk

Tuesday, September 20th Wednesday, September 21st Saturday, September 24th Sunday, September 25th Tuesday, September 27th Wednesday, September 28st

We’re on the Web!
See us at:

Saturday, October 1st Saturday, October 15 Sunday, October 16

● AA Meeting, 8:30am –9:30am CSM Library ● 329 Tonti Dedication Bienville Site ● 2nd Anniversary Sunday Service 10:00am Sanctuary ● 2ND Anniversary Luncheon 11:15am-1:15pm CSM Church Hall Honoring Mr. & Mrs. Alan and Maureen Coe UCC New Orleans Disaster Recovery
and on


CENTRAL ST. MATTHEW UCC 1333 S. Carrollton Avenue New Orleans, LA 70118