Register for Vacation Bible School

You are invited to come to VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
JULY 30 – AUGUST 3, 2018 9am – 12 noon


The fruits of the spirit are not actual fruit. They are characteristics or qualities that people need to work on to become good people and good followers of Jesus. Nine fruits of the spirit are named in a letter that one of the disciples wrote. He wanted to help new Christians become good followers of Jesus. (Galatians 5: 22-25) During VBS week we will focus on five of them: love, joy, peace, generosity, and faithfulness.
Embrace the Fruits of the Spirit is a children’s curriculum designed to help children discover the fruits of the spirit in their daily lives while exploring the Caribbean. We meet the children of Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. How do the children of these countries live out their values in their daily lives? Each day’s lesson contains a letter from a child in that country, a story from the Bible that demonstrates a fruit of the spirit, a craft, a game, a snack, and a song.

There is no registration fee.
I give permission for St. John’s UCC to use photos of my children for church media.

UCC leaders: Keep Families Together!

Condemning the unconscionable assertion that migrant children should be separated from their parents because of ‘orderly and lawful processes that protect the weak and lawful,’ — a Biblical statement used to justify U.S. immigration policies — United Church of Christ National Leadership has issued this pastoral letter, urging the people of the denomination’s almost 5,000 congregations to take action now! First, by contacting their Congressional representatives, and then by providing funds to keep families together. Money to be used to support the people sleeping in the streets at the borders of this country, or those parents and children separated upon entry!

“Still, when God saw the trouble they were in and heard their cries for help,
God remembered God’s Covenant with them, and, immense with love, took them by the hand.
God poured out God’s mercy on them while their captors looked on, amazed.”
Psalm 106:44-47 (MSG)

Friends, once again we stand at the brink of a moral precipice in our society and the question before us is will we choose to act in covenant with God on behalf of God’s people or will we sacrifice our soul. The United Church of Christ has long been a supporter of migrant families seeking refuge within our borders from intolerable and unsafe living conditions in their homelands. As people of God committed to the sacredness of all creation and the sanctity of every life, we are compelled to heed the cries of families now being violently torn apart at our borders for political expediency and profitability. Such violent acts are unnecessarily punitive and place at risk the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and developmental stability of hundreds of families who now find themselves separated, caged, and commodified in a strange land.

All of our sacred texts, no matter the faith, identify the disregard of the humanity of the vulnerable as sin.

FamiliesTogether2.pngAnd God hears the cries of God’s people. The plight of black and brown migrant families whose children are ripped from their care cannot be the policy of a civilized land. We’ve been here before. Our nation’s history bears witness to a legacy of lost love. We separated the children of Native people from their families. We separated the children of enslaved people from their families. We separated the children of Japanese people from their families. Many of these families were never made whole again. This legacy of white supremacist ideology is idolatrous and leaves an indelible mark of evil that can only be redeemed by a conscious act of spiritual repentance and repair.

We must resist the evil of dehumanization enacted upon the vulnerable among us. The United Church of Christ strongly condemns the dismantling of families, the criminalization of the quest for freedom, and the caging of those whose only crime is to seek shelter from harm. How we treat those who seek shelter in our midst is a direct reflection of how we treat God. We call upon our 5,000 member churches to write letters to your representatives in Congress as an act of worship this month. Refugee Justice Sunday is June 17, World Refugee Day is June 20. Remind Congress there is a law that supersedes partisanship and political bantering, and that is the sanctity of all people of God.

Faithfully yours,
The National Officers of the United Church of Christ
The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries
The Rev. James Moos, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries

The Council of Conference Ministers of the United Church of Christ

Call on Congress to Keep Families Together! Use this link.

Donate, designating your gift to Keep Families Together here.

Learn more about UCC work at the border here.

Pride Month Calls to Solidarity with the Marginalized


The United Church of Christ kicked off Pride month on Saturday, June 2, with a visible presence in the event held in denomination’s home city of Cleveland. The National Setting of the United Church of Christ, which served as the Education and Advocacy sponsor of the 2018 Pride in the CLE, joined in the parade and festival that followed with a number of UCC congregations and the Open and Affirming Coalition.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to join local UCC churches in support of the LGBT community and the sharing God’s love with our neighbors,” said Nichole Collins, Associate Director, Annual Giving and 3 Great Loves Project Manager in the Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity and Communication (OPTIC).

Just a couple of days letter the United Church of Christ leadership is expressing dismay and displeasure over a United States Supreme Court decision that rules in favor of Colorado baker who did not want to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs, calling it a “difficult and dangerous ruling that leaves the door open to discrimination.”

In a statement on behalf of the UCC national leadership, the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, executive for health and wholeness advocacy, emphasized that every person is a child of God, endowed by God with worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside.

“The United Church of Christ stands with the LGBTQ community in response to this difficult ruling. The General Synod of the United Church Christ has been unequivocal in it’s stand against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Schuenemeyer said. “The General Synod’s 1975 Pronouncement on Civil Rights affirmed that every person as a child of God is endowed by God with worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside. It recognized the harm that discrimination does in public accommodations. The General Synod has consistently called for legislation and policies that protect all children of God.

“Although the very narrow ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case only applies to that case, and that case only, the 7-2 decision by the Supreme Court is likely to have harmful repercussions for the LGBTQ community,” he continued. “The court’s decision is in conflict with itself, on the one hand saying states can pass laws that protect classes of citizens, including protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and at the same time allows discrimination in this case when the law of the State of Colorado, where the case comes from, clearly prohibits discrimination, which Justice Kennedy, who wrote the courts ruling, clearly recognized.”

The General Synod of the United Church of Christ and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty filed an amicus brief in this case, joined by the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Chicago Theological Seminary. The brief argued that the Colorado statute strikes an appropriate balance respecting religious liberty and ensuring access for all to the commercial marketplace, while explicitly exempting houses of worship and other religious institutions. If an exemption were to be granted in this case, the brief argued “[r]eligious liberty itself would suffer, as religious individuals would be subject to being denied service because the commercial proprietor’s religious views differed from theirs.” The General Counsel of the United Church of Christ, Heather Kimmel, noted that the Court’s decision today does not create a general religious exemption to Colorado’s anti-discrimination statute. “The Court decided this on very narrow grounds, though the ruling will not be without ramifications for the LGBTQ community.”
Written by Connie Larkman

Go on a Mission in North Rosenberg

Come be on mission in your own backyard! That is what Attack Poverty is all about. They are a global organization that serves locally, adopting pockets of poverty and launching what they call ‘Friends Communities’. These communities are long-term commitments that require mutual relationships and collaborative efforts with local organizations, churches, residents, and stakeholders committed to community transformation.

June 11-14, 6:00pm-8:00pm, Friends of North Rosenberg will have a week long opportunity for you and your family, friends, and neighbors to serve alongside each other. There are many ways to participate or volunteer! Volunteer spots are limited, so choose your favorite when you register! To see a description of each area you can serve, click here.

All students ages 11 and older may volunteer. If you have children ages 4-10 they can be a part of the Kids Camp!

Join Friends of North Rosenberg in being the Hands and Feet of Jesus Christ right here in our own city!

They’ve changed things up this year, and there is no required cost to volunteer! However, because this Mission Week will include over 50 volunteers and over 75 children and teens, they recommend a $20 per person or $50 per family donation to help cover costs. Feel free to give more or less as you feel led. To donate, click here.

Orientation for registered local mission volunteers is June 7th 6 p.m. 503 3rd St, Rosenberg, TX 77471 (FNRO Resource Center).

For any questions, contact Faith Guerrero at: faith@attackpoverty.org.

Your Monthly HELPER for June, 2018

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Healing and Recovery with Creativity


I do not remember the names of my high school music or arts teachers. And they don’t deserve to be remembered. They told me I wasn’t good at music or arts and I believed them. To this day I don’t trust that I am a creative person, at least as far as formal arts and music are concerned. You may be the greatest artist or musician or you may be challenged as I am. Regardless of your skill: creative expression is important for developing and maintaining resilience. I have been part of the Fort Bend Recovers working group for emotional and spiritual health since Hurricane Harvey hit our community. Working with these dedicated leaders and helping our community get back on its feet is very rewarding. There is a lot of resilience that needs to be showcased and celebrated. And that is exactly what we are going to do:

Fort Bend Recovers … with Creativity’s vision is to celebrate our community’s restoration and resilience by promoting healing and recovery through original works. Fort Bend Recovers …with Creativity’s first project will be to present “The Harvey Experience – one year later”. This is the title of the anniversary event. We plan to hold the event on August 25th 2018. We are formulating our call for submissions, developing creativity categories which include both visual and performance art. The call for submissions will be worded to encourage residents of Fort Bend County (young and old) to tell their Harvey story – in writing, poetry & essay, in paintings, in music, in dance, etc. We hope that we will get a Harvey quilt, a Harvey rap song, and many Harvey paintings and drawings and photographs. “Art has a way of transforming hard truth, ugliness, and heartache and turning it into something beautiful. We believe that creative works will be healing for the creators as well as the observers/participants.” — Dr. Amy Harkins, a psychologist with Easter Seals Greater Houston

Fort Bend Recovers…with Creativity is working to finalize the details for The Harvey Experience. The details for the creative works will be posted soon. But don’t let that stop you from starting to create. Express your Harvey experience and share your process. We are not looking for the next Mozart or Van Gogh. My high school music and arts teachers are not invited to the event. You are free to express yourself and find your own voice.

Vet Church at St. John’s

Our congregation has a big veteran population. We take them on field trips like recently to the Lone Star Flight Museum. We offer presentations by the Texas Veterans Commission and others. On June 3rd, 2018 we will bring the Vet Church experience to our Sunday morning worship at 10 am. Vet Church is a community of nearly 3,000 veterans who share life on Facebook and in the real world. The driving force behind it is Matt Williams.

Retired Army Chaplain, The Reverend Dr. Matthew Owen Williams (Matt) was medically retired in 2013 at Ft. Campbell, KY. Matt has chronic pain and struggles with PTSD and Moral Injury. He is now a singer songwriter who is working through his own pain while encouraging other Veterans and Military Families to actually ‘BE’ all that they can be.

“In a world of Virtual Reality, Virtual Friends and Virtual Connection, I had a simple Idea. I would travel around America and play songs to the folks I went to Afghanistan and Iraq with. So many people liked the songs that I just kept singing, writing and playing that guitar. I am just trying be- a face-to-face encouragement. I am trying to be real in a world of virtual. As a Veteran so much about life is surreal. I just want to be real. These songs are me and my military experience: happy, sad, angry –all of It.” –Matt Williams

Matt keeps singing and playing and in this way blesses communities all over the country with his guitar and songs. On June 3rd he will lead our worship service alongside Rev. Daniel Haas so we will all have a chance to extend the love of Christ to those with pain and problems. Vet Church is a bit different than normal church in that it is a virtual community designed specifically for Veterans and those who struggle with PTSD, Moral Injury, Depression, Anxiety, Physical Pain and other Stuff. Please join them online and please join Matt live in Rosenberg on June 3rd.

Strengthen the Church

The 2018 South Central Conference Annual Meeting is coming, are you? Where has the past year gone? It seems as if the 2017 Annual Meeting in Dallas was just a few weeks ago. This year we will be meeting at Camp Allen near Navasota, TX., Friday, June 1 at 12:45pm to Saturday June 2 at 3pm, with the meeting being hosted by our Heart of Texas Association. During our first day together we will hear from our General Minister and President, John Dorhauer preach at the Conference Minister installation. We will also participate in workshops in subject areas reflecting the 5 priorities of our conference:
1. Spiritual Renewal
2. Planting new congregations
3. Re-vitalizing older congregations
4. Living the Gospel according to Jesus Christ
5. Stewardship

We will have a presentation from Joshua Lawrence and Amariee Collins, our Disaster Ministries Coordinators on the hurricane recovery effort. Aside from the business of our conference, there will be fellowship times, clergy dinner, wonderful music and worship. Sisters and brothers, this is our time to gather as a family of faith…it is important. Come, let us worship as a family of faith. After all it is Moral Monday…stand up and be counted.
Peace and Grace,
Dr. Don

PS: You do not have to be a delegate to attend. The presentations and workshops will be uplifting even if you don’t have a vote in the business meeting!

PPS: If you can’t make it to Camp Allen, you can strengthen the church in another important way. This Sunday, May 20th, is Pentecost, and on Pentecost at St. John’s UCC we receive the Strengthen the Church Offering. During this season, I’m writing to ask you to support the Strengthen the Church Special Mission Offering. This offering supports the expansion and vitality of the United Church of Christ. The first half of your gift funds ministry within the South Central Conference while the second half goes to strengthening the church nationally! Our beloved denomination needs your support to fulfill on its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities. Please prayerfully consider making a gift. Thank for your support.

Annual Interfaith Iftar

I am excited! I ordered 9 free tickets for my wife, my kids, my in-laws, and myself. We are going to the annual INTERFAITH Iftar of Ramadan at Maryam Islamic Center in Sugar Land on May 31st, 2018. Here is what is going to happen there:
6:30 PM – Arrival & Socializing
7:00 PM – Program Begins
8:15 PM – Fasting Experience/Iftar
8:40 PM – Prayer followed by Dinner

Amina Ishaq is the Lead for Maryam Islamic Center’s Interfaith Team. Which brings me to the question: Who is the lead of St. John’s Interfaith Team? How come we don’t have an Interfaith Team? Anyway here is her introduction on the importance of the holy month:

“Ramadan is a special and holy month of the Islamic lunar year for over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. It is a time for inner reflection, contemplation, discipline and devotion to God. As we fast and sacrifice food and drink during the daylight hours, we are reminded of Gods blessings upon us and are encouraged to be charitable.
Ramadan is a month of giving and sharing. It is an opportunity for friends and family of diverse faiths to understand one another and to show kindness to those around them. It is a time of renewal and recommitment to bettering oneself. It is a time for one to become closer to God through sacrificing ones most basic need in order to become more patient and disciplined. The holy Quran was also revealed in the month of Ramadan.
The month of Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid-ul-fitr or the celebration of the breaking of the fast. On Eid muslims pray to God, greet one another happily, exchange gifts, eat delicious food, visit family and neighbors, give charity and have fun.
It is our hope that this Ramadan & Eid brings a sense of peace and hope throughout the world.”

So, don’t miss out. Please join me and my family this Ramadan. Get your free tickets over here. If you can’t make it this time, then at least talk to your church council members about getting an Interfaith Team started at our church. I’d love to help!