Come walk on Saturday!

CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations or groups to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world. Our CROP Walk for West Fort Bend County will be held on Saturday, April 29th at George Ranch. Registration opens at 07;30. The walk begins at 08:00.

With its inception in 1969, CROP Hunger Walks are “viewed by many as the granddaddy of charity walks,” notes the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 26, 2009). On October 17, 1969, a thousand people in Bismarck, ND, walked in what may have been the start of the hunger walks related to CROP – and raised $25,000 to help stop hunger. As far as we know, York County, Penn., was the first walk officially called the CROP Walk for the Hungry – and that event has been continuous since 1970. For West Fort Bend County we started the CROP in 1972. Currently, well over 2,000 communities across the U.S. join in more than 1,000 CROP Hunger Walks each year. More than five million CROP Hunger Walkers have participated in more than 36,000 CROP Hunger Walks in the last two decades alone. Last year, St. John’s United Church of Christ contributed 37 out of 118 walkers and $2801 out of $12038 total.

What does CROP stand for?
When CROP began in 1947 (under the wing of Church World Service, which was founded in 1946), CROP was an acronym for the Christian Rural Overseas Program. Its primary mission was to help Midwest farm families to share their grain with hungry neighbors in post-World War II Europe and Asia. Today, we’ve outgrown the acronym but we retain it as the historic name of the program.

Where do CROP Hunger Walk funds go?
CROP Hunger Walks help to support the overall work of Church World Service, particularly grassroots development efforts around the world. In addition, 25 percent of the funds raised remain in Fort Bend County and go directly to Helping Hands, our local food-bank in Richmond. CROP Hunger Walks help to provide food and water, as well as resources that empower people to meet their own needs. From seeds and tools to wells and water systems, the key is people working together to identify their own development priorities, their strengths and their needs – something CWS has learned through 70 years of working in partnership around the world.

Mission and Connection in Greater Houston

Our congregation is part of the Houston Association of the United Church of Christ. The life of the wider church is an integral part of who we are and what we do as a church.

What we do is expressed through our mission:
– Grow in grace as the Houston Association of the United Church of Christ do a group volunteer with Houston Food Bank. A few times a year your time can be a gift to hungry kids, seniors and others who may not have enough to eat. Volunteers produce the equivalent of a meal a minute while helping the Houston Food Bank sort, process, and pack food. And it’s fun!
– Members of the Houston Association are invited to week camps in Biloxi, Mississippi. Back Bay Mission has constructed homes for homeless veterans, supported neighborhood stability, and is now working on bridges out of poverty permanently for residents wanting to partner with mentors for three years. Back Bay Mission needs help with construction and home maintenance. Some of the campers work in the “Clients Choice” food pantry, and others assist at The Micah Center, helping with daily showers, and life skills. Our next work camp is December 3 to December 9, 2017, and we are asking for commitments.
– The Houston Association owns 200 low-income apartments in Settegast Heights. We extend the love of God to people in need. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available and for the holidays we ask for financial support to provide our residents with a Thanksgiving Feast and Christmas presents.

Who we are is expressed through our connection:
– The Houston Association is comprised of 16 churches in Greater Houston. We run various programs together that allow our members to get to know each other.
– A few times a year we host youth events for teenagers to have a fun day together full of food and games.
– We help one another: When a church is struck by disaster we pitch in to help out. When Christ United Church of Cypress was hit by a flood, crews from Rosenberg and all over the place rushed to help.
– We equip and exchange pastors. Our local ministers get a chance to gather every month to discuss important items that affect all of us. Every year we try to schedule a pulpit rotation so ministers and congregations have a chance to get to know ministers and congregations from the other side of town.
– Last but not least the Houston Association coordinates our ecumenical and interfaith programs in Greater Houston. We model unity in the body of Christ. It’s what the United Church of Christ does. We have always been faithful to our motto, “that they may all be one” (John 17:21).

Services for Denver McFarland

It is with sadness to report the death of Denver McFarland this past Friday night.  Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18th at Davis Greenlawn in Rosenberg with a reception to follow back here at St. John’s UCC in the Parish Hall.

Visitation will be on Monday, April 17th beginning at 5:00 p.m.



UCC leaders grieve for victims of Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt

Written by Anthony Moujaes

A pair of deadly attacks in Northern Egypt, just hours apart, have shaken Egypt’s Christian community as it marked the beginning of Holy Week. The United Church of Christ is strongly condemning the violent acts of terrorism on April 16. Two bombs set off in coordinated attacks on Coptic Orthodox churches and their worshippers on Palm Sunday killed at least 43 people and injured more than 100 others.

“With deep connections to the churches of Egypt, and with the Christian community there, we are deeply saddened by the senseless murder of innocent people yesterday in Tanta and Alexandria,” said Peter Makari, UCC area executive for the Middle East and Europe. “We offer our prayers, support, and solidarity with the Coptic Christian community, and with the people of Egypt, who have been impacted by the two tragic and deadly explosions. We grieve with them, and pray that such violence will cease.”

The UCC has partnerships with both Orthodox and Protestant churches in Egypt through Global Ministries, a shared international ministry between the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The Protestant Churches of Egypt have said that these “cowardly attacks” will not deter Christians in Egypt from attending church. “Our faith calls us to hold on to our unity,” said the Rev. Andrea Zaki, President of the Protestant Community. He roundly condemned the terrorist attacks “which attempted to inspire fear and threaten national unity” and “contradict everything religion, our traditions, and human values call us to.” The Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church in Egypt also opened its hospital in Tanta for free care for victims of the attacks.

An affiliate of the Islamic State out of the Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attacks on churches in Tanta and Alexandria, both located north of Cairo along the Nile River.

Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 91 million people. Militant groups have threatened Copts, believing they supported the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi in favor of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has promised to protect religious minorities.

Coptic Pope Tawadros had been leading the mass at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria at the time of the explosion, but he was not injured, according to reports. “These acts will not harm the unity and cohesion of the people,” he told state media.

Global Ministries has sent of statement of support to partner organizations in Egypt and the Middle East.

Church Office Closed Today

On Thursday the church office will be closed. As secretary and bookkeeper Sandra Flarity provides crucial ministries for our congregation. But there is so much more to this church lady. Last year we sent her to a training for emergency ministry. She has since served as a volunteer chaplain for the Harris County sheriff’s office. On Thursday she will be pulling duty at a law enforcement brother’s memorial service who was killed in the line of duty. Times like these require our support. Please keep Sandra and her special ministry in your prayers.

Holy Week

Holy Week is right around the corner. This year our services all circle around meals.

On Thursday, April 13, at 6 pm, the Brotherhood will provide soup & salad for our Maundy Thursday Service. This is the most obvious meal service. The Thursday before Easter reminds us of the last supper that Jesus had before he was killed. It takes us back to the even more ancient Passover tradition of Jesus’s Jewish heritage. And like any good murder mystery dinner it even raises questions like, “who is going to have our friend killed?”. Please join us for a tasty, meaningful evening around the dinner table.

On Friday, April 14, at 11:30 am, the Guild will provide a luncheon before our noon Good Friday Service. On the day of Jesus’s crucifixion the church has traditionally fasted which means particularly abstained from eating meat. Since the Son of God shed all his blood that day, we do not need to add to the bloodshed today. We will eat and then transition into a very solemn service that consists of stripping the sanctuary of all its joyful elements, leaving a dead room, just as Jesus died.

Everything comes full-circle on Easter morning. The eggs to which we said our good-byes on Mardi Gras come back in the form of Easter Eggs. The Easter breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt at 09:00 on Easter Morning, Sunday, April 16, remind us that life and joy have returned that day. The sanctuary is restored with all its symbols of life and joy. The gloria returns to songs of praise. Rich foods and rich life are back again. Also, the St. John’s United Church of Christ Children’s Choir has practiced a couple of songs that they are going to perform celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.