The April Church Newsletter-The Blessing is now available for your use. As always we invite you to participate at St. John’s UCC as you are able. https://mailchi.mp/34bcecacc9bd/your-helper-20262800
The March church newsletter, The Blessing is now available for your use. https://mailchi.mp/fc7c75d3148e/your-helper-20259624
Please click link to view the January 2023 church newsletter, The Blessing. https://mailchi.mp/4756400f5082/your-helper-20251988
|When we are sharing a meal together or working together.
|Family Ministry reaching out to our shut-ins and those in need!
|Having each other’s back by helping when needed without having to ask.
|Showing up for families in crisis. Showing love and concerns for all offering prayers.
|To see before church the people conversing, laughing and coming together.
|covered dish meals
|it responds to unexpected challenges
|when reaching out to serve the needs of others unselfishly, caring for others, being the hands and feet of Christ
|Each member brings their best gifts / talents to share. Everyone has a time to give of themselves and even if it is a moment of prayer it is best!
Please note: None of these have anything to do with worship! The one hour of music and proclamation is not even mentioned. That’s not where church happens when it’s most meaningful. Here with St. John’s UCC, church is not a place or event you go to, but a movement that makes people’s lives better. St. John’s is the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; 6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’
The holiday season is upon us. With it come the inevitable proclamations and expectations that people have for Christmas. Listening to people share their hopes, dreams, and fears for the season I found that there are really four very distinct Christmases that people engage with. You can put them in a quad chart that stretches from Internal to External as well as from Conciliatory to Confrontational:
The external confrontational Christmas is represented by the bumper sticker that demands to keep Christ in Christmas. When people feel threatened in their identity they tend to overemphasize symbols and words. The aggressive overtone of a Kulturkampf corresponds with the perceived threat to a “Christian America”. Christmas is a welcome season to “strike back”. This Christmas is a cultural idol that gets politicized a lot.
The external conciliatory Christmas is one that is manifested in soup kitchens and generous donations throughout the season. When people want to feel good about themselves, the holiday season gives permission and occasion to live that out. Soup kitchens and food banks are notoriously short on volunteers and donations during the summer. But during the holiday season they get swamped with both, making scheduling and storage a nightmare.
The internal conciliatory Christmas is all about home sweet home. It kicks off around Thanksgiving with decorations and food. The cold winter months are the bitter contrast that gets fended off by a home that is warmer and cozier than ever. In a world that is increasingly complex and unpredictable the warm fuzzies of this Christmas bring a sense of safety and security.
The internal confrontational Christmas happens when family members gather around holiday feasts. The expectation is for everybody to get along and behave for the holidays. But the truth of the matter is that there are reasons some people are not invited, stay away, or show up grudgingly. There is no magic in the air that fixes broken relationships without continuous effort.
Did you notice that I just described the entirety of the Christmas experience without mentioning the church or the birth of Christ? They are an afterthought for most people because we are so busy engaging with the four other Christmases. Christmas is the Mass that celebrates Christ. Christ-Mass is a worship service. That is all from a church perspective. You should try it this holiday season.
For the fourth time, St. John’s is bringing St. Martin to Rosenberg, Texas. Celebrating one of Germany’s most cherished holiday traditions please join us for a Saint Martin’s Procession on Saturday, November 10th, 2018.
Young and Old with self-made paper lanterns will follow Saint Martin on his horse through the neighborhood around St. John’s United Church of Christ.
It all starts with the making of the paper lanterns at 6:00 pm. Please bring your own supplies. If you need assistance with that please contact the church.
A Soup Dinner is provided free of charge. Everyone is invited to bring dessert and a free will offering.
After our meal a skit will introduce the legendary episode of the cloak. Then the procession will circle around the neighborhood. Even though this is a German-language activity the skit will be bilingual for your convenience.
Please RSVP on Facebook
Zum vierten mal bringt die Johanniskirche St. Martin nach Rosenberg, Texas. Alle sind herzlich eingeladen eine der beliebtesten deutschen Feiertagstraditionen zu feiern am Samstag, den 10. November 2018.
Jung und Alt folgen St. Martin, der hoch zu Ross unterwegs ist, mit selbstgebastelten Laternen durch die Nachbarschaft um St. John’s United Church of Christ.
Es geht los um 18:00 Uhr mit dem Laternenbasteln. Bringt bitte eure eigenen Materialen mit. Wer dabei Hilfe braucht, melde sich bitte bei der Gemeinde.
Zum Abendessen gibt es kostenlose Suppe. Wer möchte kann Nachtisch und eine freiwillige Spende dazu beitragen.
Im Anspiel nach dem Essen erleben wir die berühmte Geschichte mit dem Mantel. Dann geht der Zug los durch die Nachbarschaft. Für unsere englischsprachigen Gäste wird das Ganze bilingual veranstaltet.
Bitte meldet euch auf Facebook an
The deadline for voter registration in Texas is fast approaching on October 9th. Please check with the secretary of state that you are properly registered. Why would a pastor have to remind me of that? Church is not supposed to be political! Well, I am following the example of the Apostle Paul reminding the Romans to be responsible citizens:
“Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear. Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live. That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.” (Romans 13, The Message)
The greatest danger to our system of government is when citizens do not do their part and the most formidable thing you can do to fulfill this commandment is to vote. You know the consequences of what happens when you don’t:
There is a biblical example of that as well. If you don’t follow Romans 13 and check your voter registration you may end up with worse than Taco Bell – the beast of Revelation 13:
“The Beast had a loud mouth, boastful and blasphemous. It could do anything it wanted for forty-two months. It yelled blasphemies against God, blasphemed his Name, blasphemed his Church, especially those already dwelling with God in Heaven. It was permitted to make war on God’s holy people and conquer them. It held absolute sway over all tribes and peoples, tongues and races. Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world’s foundation in the slaughtered Lamb’s Book of Life will worship the Beast.”
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.
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.
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
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.