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Our Statements of Faith

Sisters and Brothers of Central St. Matthew, When I ran confirmation programs, I’d have the students craft a Statement of Faith or Credo (Latin for “I believe) just prior to Confirmation Sunday. I always found these fascinating to read - - while some kids just parroted back what they thought adults would want to hear, many of them had deep and original thoughts about where they stood and they values they held. I would explain to the kids that the statements were a “snapshot” along their journey of faith, as our faith evolves, grows, and hopefully deepens as we age and encounter new people and new experiences. I chose to require a Statement of Faith as opposed to some type of final exam because our faith is about testimony, not tests. An exam leaves open the possibility for failure, something of a final word or a judgment on whether or not one’s beliefs are “correct.” Friends, we worship a God who does not desire us to fail, especially not in our faith. During the month of March, as a Lenten practice, we will examine the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith - - the testimony crafted in 1959 following the establishment of the denomination. The Statement makes a host of complex theological claims, each line ripe with the Fruits of the Spirit. Through my sermons, I will highlight four themes from different sections of the Statement, leaving the remainder for you to prayerfully consider, or perhaps for another series at a later time. The themes roughly break out this way: Holy Love, Incarnation and Salvation, The Christian’s Job Description, and God’s Promise. So that this concept of a faith statement is a little more relatable, I have asked four members to share their own testimony with the congregation. Each one of us has a story to tell about our journeys - - where we’ve been and how we got here. We will get the chance to hear a piece of these stories from Carol Etter, Pam Legge, Vicki Weeks, and Dr. Lucian Zidaru. I am grateful to these folks for modeling the courage to share such personal stories in such a public way, and I pray that their words will inspire you to share your own story with someone, giving your own testimony about how God has been active in your life. This series will bring us into Holy Week when we will follow Jesus from the exhilarating highs of Palm Sunday, through the solemnity of Maundy Thursday, the shameful crucifixion of Good Friday, to the majestic promise-filled glory of Easter. Our own journeys encounter these same summit highs and valley lows to an extent, as we will likely hear from our friends in their own testimonies. I pray that wherever you might be on your life’s journey, you might be able to testify to the presence of God in your life, and come to share that message with others, proclaiming your own Statement of Faith written on your heart, read aloud through living it out. Blessings & Peace, What do you think? In the February lead article and in my annual report, I put forward a few proposals for initiatives, and I’d love to know how you want to be involved! Open & Affirming Process Faith Formation Safe Church Policy Communications Service & Mission

Rev. Chris Mereschuk

For the Flock …

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On Sunday, February 19, we bid farewell to Marsha McFadden Quick, our Minister-In Care, as she journeyed back to her home in Arizona while she continues to search for a pastoral call. Marsha passed along this note of thanks to share with the congregation.
Hey everyone - Happy Lent! I'm in Tucson now, with my 'other' family - my parents, my sisters and brother in law and my two nieces. Even though I miss NOLA, I'm so happy to be home with my family for a bit. While I was on the road, I noticed that a hospice here in Tucson is seeking a chaplain and I applied. . In addition, I've been contacted by a church in St Louis who wants to interview me as an Associate Pastor for Faith Formation, and I had a preliminary interview for a position as a staff chaplain at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. It seems as if ever since I moved, all of a sudden a torrent of things are coming my way! I really wish I could be there in person for Cheryl's sermon and Chris' installation this Sunday. I know both services will be special. I look forward to the podcast. I can't thank you enough for your generous parting gifts - believe me, it is MUCH appreciated. With your help and God's guidance, I know that the right position will be found very soon. In the meanwhile, enjoy the serenity that comes with post-Mardi Gras days and I will write again in a few days. Many Blessings,


Marsha McFadden Quick 5249 West Fireopal Way Tucson, Arizona 85742 (520) 744-2299

Many Thanks for a Wonderful Installation!
Again in 2011, Central St. Matthew contributed to all 5 special offerings of the United Church of Christ. Our Church’s Wider Mission One Great Hour of Sharing Neighbors in Need Strengthen the Church The Christmas Fund With each dollar we give, we support the mission and justice work of our denomination, strengthen our covenant with our fellow UCC congregations and reaching out in ways that we could not do on our own. Next Offering: One Great Hour of Sharing Sunday, March 18, 2012 Thank you all for being a part of the Service of Installation on February 26, 2012. I feel so blessed to be serving as the first settled pastor for Central St. Matthew UCC! My thanks especially go to the members of the Search Committee (Dale Bonds, Ellen Pecoul, Rodney Plummer, Dr. Davis, Bythelda Davis, and Julie Darby), Rev. Douglas Anders, Dr. Zidaru and the choir, Rev. Jim Hightower, Marie Weatherspoon, Tia Perry, Mike Duplessis, Ellen Bentz, and Ceely Pedesdeaux from Beecher UCC for the incredible handmade stole.

Rebuilding & Renewing

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Imagine What’s Possible: Rebuilding & Renewing to Serve All of God’s People!
The work of the “Rebuilding & Renewing” campaign continues, with the Steering Committee and sub-committees meeting regularly throughout the month. Social Justice Team: Continues to explore potential service agency partnerships and develop an evaluation tool to assess the needs of the Bienville and Carrollton neighborhoods. Property Team: A “re-sub-divisioning” of the Davis-Landix House (329 N. Tonti) has delayed our occupancy. We have contracted with a property lawyer to help us navigate this challenge. This work also requires architectural drawings, and we are contracting with an architect soon. The blueprints for the sanctuary are completed, and we await appropriate funding before we can apply for permits. The three properties along Bienville (5-plex, single, double) are now on the market, with a broker agreeing to serve pro bono. Finance Team: With the closing of the UCC Disaster Recovery office, funds remained that were designated for Central St. Matthew. We have received an additional $40,000+ towards our goals. The team is determining the next steps for financing our projects, and is in search of a person (or persons) with successful grant writing experience. The displays from our December 13, 2011 campaign launch are now in the lobby at 1333 South Carrollton, and will be adapted for display on our website. If you have not done so already, please consider making a pledge, stretched over 5 years, to the capital campaign. Thank you!

Vital Signs
Financial Update: Thank you for your generous gifts, tithes and offerings in support of our church’s ministry and outreach. When giving by check, please make them 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 Etter or Dale bonds, our Co-Treasurers. Mission Giving Plan (Budget) 2012 Our budget for 2012 was approved at our January 29, 2012 Annual Meeting. The approved budget is $290,450. However, our projected income (known and estimated pledges, offerings, rentals) is only $242,040 leaving us with a projected deficit of $48,410. As of the end of January 2012: Income = $23,721 (budget) VS $15,926.74 (actual) Note: As of report, rental income outstanding. Expenses = $5,939.82 (budget) VS $3,504.10 (actual) Note: 11 months to go! Did You Know? • It costs us $807 per day to operate Central St. Matthew UCC. • Our tenant partners contribute $256 per day. • As members and friends of this congregation, we must contribute $551 per day. • At our current giving level, we fall short by $144 per day! Thank you for your contibutions toward the mission and ministry of Central St. Matthew United Church of Christ!

For the Flock …

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The following Article appeared in the January 2012 edition of "Swell Shoe", the newsletter of the New Orleans Chapter of the Organ Historical Society. A recording of the organ concert is available for free through our podcasts, with CD’s available by request ($5 donation) from Pastor Chris. As with any group which is completely volunteer and which sets its dues at a bare minimum, there are limits to what the New Orleans Chapter of the Organ Historical Society can do and sponsor in terms of recitals and events. So it is with great deal of pleasure to recognize and thank Central St. Matthew United Church of Christ for a splendid celebration of the 30th anniversary of the installation and dedication of their Hook & Hastings organ. Thirty years is a long time in anyone's book, and both New Orleans as well as St. Matthew United Church of Christ have changed greatly. As with most of us who live here, the most significant event for both the City and the Congregation was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. St. Matthew UCC was a stalwart and fine congregation whose heritage was the Evangelical & Reformed denomination which had merged with the New England Congregational Church to form the United Church of Christ. One of their sister congregations, the historic and important predominantly African American Central United Church of Christ on Bienville Street was decimated by the storm. Extending the right hand of Christian fellowship, St. Matthew invited the congregants of Central to come to worship with them. As things evolved, both congregations were moved to unite into a combined single one, and thus was formed Central St. Matthew UCC. Thirty years ago our own Rachelen Lien was the Music Director at St. Matthew. With a great deal of courage and even more faith, she and the St. Matthew congregation put their trust in a young organ builder from Fort Worth, one Roy Redman, who assured them that a 1905 Hook & Hastings tracker organ which had already served two congregations could come back to life as a good organ for St. Matthew. The church leaders contracted for the organ and also made significant and major renovations to their Sanctuary to accommodate both the organ and most any musical offering. On November 20th 2011, Central St. Matthew celebrated the 30th anniversary of the organ. Though parking was almost impossible due to the Poor Boy Festival at the same time on Oak Street, the church was filled with interested people, but even more so with members of the church. It was so nice to see them there and know that they realize what a gem they have. This writer had not heard the organ in many years, and I was stunned at the comprehensiveness and beauty of it. It was a fine program that consisted of recital pieces as well as congregational involvement singing several hymns. The Central St. Matthew Music Director, Dr. Lucian Zidaru, began with Bach works for manual. Ryan Celestin followed with the grand Now Thank We All Our God. Norman Maunz showed his absolute precision works by Martin, Guilmant, Bach, and Lubech. Finally the day concluded with Rachelen Lien, who's prescience brought the organ to New Orleans some thirty years ago, mounted the bench. It was a joy on the part of all of us to have her back where it all started. She played Buxtehude, Brahms, Bach, Dandrieu, and Zipoli. The concert concluded with recognition of Roy Redman who brought the organ to New Orleans and who has faithfully maintained it. And finally, the Central St Matthew Choir provided a lovely reception to conclude a lovely day. Travers Koerner Organ Historical Society-New Orleans Chapter

For the Flock …

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The Second Harvest Food Collection for March is

Whole Grain Crackers
All unopened, unexpired food items are welcome! Pastor Chris also distributes “ready-to-eat” foods to drop-in visitors, and will accept donations of these foods at any time.

Welcome, TaiQuay Smith! We are pleased to announce that we have hired a nursery attendant for Sunday mornings. TaiQuay (Tie-Kway) Smith came to New Orleans to work with AmeriCorps, and is currently serving at a high school in New Orleans East. She has CPR and First Aid certification, and comes with a wealth of childcare experience. Our nursery will be staffed on Sunday mornings from 9:30am to 11:30am. If no children are present by 10:30am, TaiQuay has the option to depart for the day. Spread the word, bring the kids!
Central St. Matthew Sermons-to-Go! CSM Sermon Podcasts

Listen to the Good News from Central St. Matthew UCC on your iPod, mp3 Player, or on your computer! Tune in to 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:, or in the iTunes store by searching for “central st matthew ucc.”

Good  News  About  The  Good  Gang!  
While the Davis-Landix House (Good Gang HQ) might not be ready for action, we are getting the Good Gang program up and running! Most notably, Central St. Matthew has signed on to be the Charter Organization for a Boy Scout troop, a Cub Scout troop, and a Venture Crew. The Venture Crew is a co-ed, youth-led group for high school students that plans activities and trainings. Our Venture Crew (#131) has already been meeting weekly since January, and is busy planning for spring and summer events - including a trip to a summer camp! Donations to the Good If you would like to be involved in any aspect of the Good Gang or the Gang or to help the Scouting/Venture programs, please contact the people listed below: Venture Crew attend summer camp are Good Gang: Dr. Joseph Davis needed and always Scouting (Adult advisor or youth participant): Buddy Blakesley (504-606-6512) welcome!!! Scouting Oversight Committee: Pastor Chris Mereschuk

For the Flock …
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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The Door is Open! Want to catch Pastor Chris one-to-one? Have a comment, concern, or question? In need of prayer or spiritual reflection? All you have to do is reach out! Please know that Pastor Chris is always happy to meet with members and friends, whether it is at the church, your home, for lunch, or for coffee. Just drop him an email, give him a call, or hand him a note. If you or a loved one is ill, hosptialized, or in need of visitation, you may also reach him by cell phone for urgent matters: (860) 966-8055. Thank you!

                                   For  Your  Prayers…  
Shirley Marie Evelyn Ethel Becky Marsha Martha Lisa Stephanie Laverna Gary Karen Verna Eddie Dan Kelly Melvin Frieda Fred Lynn Misty Tom Douglas Cheryl For the people of New Orleans, our sisters and brothers who live in violent places, for the groups that continue to come to New Orleans to help us rebuild, and for those impacted by recent storms. For the families of Wilfred Lodrig, Jr., Berkes Plummer, and all saints who have gone home to glory.

  Dr.  Joseph  Davis  was  recently  honored  by  the  First  Street  Peck  Wesley  United  Methodist  Church  during   its  Black  History  Program  for  his  work  with  the  Good  Gang.     Dr.  William  Sutton  was  honored  at  Dillard  University’s  4th  Annual  Billy  Ray  Hobley  Scholarship  Gala,   recognized  as  an  educational  pioneer.    

Worship @ CSM

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Statements of Faith
Sundays in March
During Lent, we will reflect on the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith, and hear testimonies of faith from members and friends of Central St. Matthew UCC.

Sunday, March 11 @ 10am “Incarnation & Salvation” “In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to us…” Sunday, March 18 @ 10am “The Christian’s Job Description” Communion Served “You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship…” Sunday, March 25 @ 10am “God’s Promise” “You promise to all who trust you forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace…”

Holy Week
Sunday, April 1 @ 10am Palm Sunday Thursday, April 5 @ 6:30pm Maundy Thursday The Meal of the Upper Room A simple meal with readings from scripture. Friday, April 6 @ 12 Noon Good Friday Service 2401 Bienville Street (Former Central Congregational) With Fish Fry at the Hume Center. Sunday, April 8 @ 10am Easter If you are able, please bring flowers to decorate the cross.


Central  St.  Matthew   United  Church  of  Christ   Office  &  Worship:     1333  S.  Carrollton  Ave.   New  Orleans,  LA   Phone:  (504)  861-­‐8196   Fax:  (504)  861-­‐8197     Rev.  Chris  Mereschuk,  Senior  Pastor   Cell  Phone:  (860)  966-­‐8055   Dr.  Lucian  Zidaru,  Music  Director   Lisa  McKnight,  Office  Manager   Mike  Duplessis,  Custodian   Chris  Engelbracht,  Maintenance     Marie  Weatherspoon,  President   Curry  Miller,  Vice  President   Find  Us  on  Facebook  &  iTunes!  

March  2012  
Sunday, March 11th Monday, March 12th Tuesday, March 13th Wednesday, March 14th Friday, March 16th Saturday, March 17th Sunday, March 18th Monday, March 19th Tuesday, March 20th Wednesday, March 21st Saturday, March 24nd Sunday, March 25th Tuesday, March 27th ● Choir Rehearsal 9am ● Worship 10- 11am ● CCA Meeting 6:30pm – 8:30pm ● Board of Deacons 6:00pm – 8:00pm ● Choir Rehearsal 7– 8:30pm ●Church Women United 10:00am Sanctuary Sanctuary Lounge Library Sanctuary Lounge

● AA Meeting 8:30am – 10:15am Library ●Recovery Group Arrives (Alpha Phi Omega) ● Choir Rehearsal 9am ● Worship 10- 11am ● CAN Meeting 6:30pm – 8:30pm ● Board of Trustees 6:00pm – 7:00pm ● Choir Rehearsal 7– 8:30pm ● AA Meeting 8:30am – 10:15am ● Choir Rehearsal 9am ● Worship 10- 11am ●Governing Council 6:30pm Sanctuary Sanctuary Library Library Sanctuary Library Sanctuary Sanctuary Library

Central St. Matthew United Church of Christ 1333 South Carrollton Ave. New Orleans, LA 70118