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.

Spiritual Summer Reading


For the summer everybody has book recommendations for you. I am no different. Every few years I re-read a true classic. And you know when I am talking “classic” I really mean “ancient”. St. Augustine finished his “Confessions” around the year 400 CE. Augustine of Hippo is probably the most influential teacher of the Church. In this autobiographical work he describes his journey into Christianity. The conversion story part is a pretty easy read. The book is long, consisting of 13 books itself. And I don’t read it fast. Sometimes I may lay it down for a week and think about how Augustine’s life is similar to mine. I invite you to start reading now and take your time. Then at the end of the summer let’s get together and share how Augustine’s spiritual journey has impacted yours. The Spiritual Summer Reading wrap-up session will be on Sunday, August 26, at 9am at St. John’s.

You can get The Confessions of Saint Augustine for free at Project Gutenberg. But honestly that 19th century translation is not very approachable. Barnes & Noble has an edition in their Classics Series for under $10. And of course you can always find it on the e-reader of your choice.

As you read and travel this summer, don’t forget to take a look at your inner being: “And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.” (Augustine’s Confessions, Book 10).

Let’s eat apple pie and celebrate liberty


I am called an American. My certificate of naturalization says so. It also lists my “country of former nationality” as Germany. Now what makes me an American? I eat apple pie, I speak English, I have a propensity for liberty. That’s good enough, right? Well, wait a minute. This whole hemisphere from Cape Horn to the Arctic is called America. Since I did not go to school in this country I had to look up why that is.


Please join me on that search and meet Amerigo Vespucci. He was an explorer who landed in the New World in 1502. Vespucci demonstrated that Columbus was wrong when he thought he found a shortcut to India. Vespucci showed that this is a truly new continent and that is how the latinized version of his first name became the name of my citizenship. Amerigo became America. Amerigo Vespucci was born in Italy, naturalized into Spanish citizenship and worked for the Portuguese government. That’s what America is all about: We wear our national identity lightly. The places we live and the identities we hold are subject to change. You are single one day and in a relationship the next. Then you may turn into a parent. All of sudden loved ones are gone. Nothing ever stays the same. Most Americans even hyphenate their self-classification: German-American, Czech-American, Anglo-American, Mexican-American and so on. America in its very name carries the notion of being from somewhere else. This land is not truly your land or truly my land.

The facts that I eat apple pie, speak English, and have a propensity for liberty – those are all things of this world. And as such they are only of secondary importance as 1 John 2:15-17 reminds us:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.”

So this Fourth of July, let’s eat apple pie and celebrate liberty. But let us also remember that these desires are passing away. Only God’s love remains.

Caribbean Initiative Vacation Bible School

The Global Ministries Caribbean Initiative invites the whole church to witness together with the Caribbean region through education, advocacy, and support of our partners. Partner churches and organizations in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Colombia, bring incredible gifts in their strong testimonies, as they receive and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. They provide us with a broader understanding of the many ways in which God is seen at work in the world and challenge us to expand our vision of the Church. Global Ministry’s hope and prayer is that through many and varied experiences, we will better understand the issues, priorities, successes, and struggles of sisters and brothers in the Caribbean and, in turn, be challenged to understand ourselves, our world, and our faith anew.

During this initiative, members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ celebrate relationships with the Caribbean through a variety of resources for our congregation including Bible studies, music, liturgical materials, special giving opportunities, People-to-People Pilgrimages, videos, children´s resources, and more. Additionally, there are tools to address some of the universal challenges of the region: migration and human trafficking; the quest for peace; sustainable development in the face of climate change; and the churches’ witness for just economic policies that encourage the flourishing of life.

Join the Global Ministries Caribbean Initiative today and Embrace the Fruits of the Spirit! At St. John’s United Church of Christ we will be utilizing the VBS curriculum “Embrace the Fruits of the Spirit”. It 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. You can register online here.

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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