FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST – OUR OPEN AND AFFIRMING GREAT FALLS CHURCH WHERE EVERYONE IS WELCOME!

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

The annual UCC/CUMC School Supply drive is underway. We collect school supplies of all kinds and, through the schools and teachers, get them to kids who don’t have the necessary basic materials for school. Please thoughtfully consider contributing to this drive. Contributions can be dropped off at the church anytime between now and the end of August.

AUGUST 27 WORSHIP

Our FCUCC/CUMC combined worship on August 27 will be outside on the front lawn and will be led by Pastor Susan. This is a way to reach out to those who live around us and a fun event for you to invite a friend to experience. The service will be amplified so all will be able to hear and participate. Brunch will be served outside following worship. This event will provide opportunities for people of all ages to unite and have fun – no need to bring food, just bring a lawn chair to use for worship and brunch. Invite a friend – this is a great way to connect with our community!

SOCIAL GROUP UPDATES

Don’t forget – the Yoga group meets on Wednesdays at 5:15 in the Sanctuary – bring $5 for the instructor and water to drink – also your yoga mat. The classes have been well attended and new folks are joining each week for the exercise and fun.

The next Road Trip is on Thursday, August 24. The trip is to historic Fort Benton to visit the fort, Fur Trade Museum, Steamboat Museum, Upper Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center, and the Ag Museum. The day will end with dinner at the Union Grill in Montana’s oldest hotel. We will meet at the church at 9:30 AM to carpool and caravan to Fort Benton. Those wishing to go are asked to RSVP to Lila Byers at (406)590-7656 or lilabyers@live.com so we know how many are planning to join us and so Lila can make reservations for dinner. A ticket for all 4 museums is $15 –  or $12 for Seniors.

The annual What the Hay driving tour on the Montana Bale Trail from Windham to Utica to Hobson happens again this year on Sunday, September 10. Due to the heavy traffic on that day, perhaps folks would want to go on either Saturday afternoon or Monday – with Monday probably providing the best opportunity to view the creations. Folks can either go on their own or we could work on putting together a group event. Anyone who is interested in being an organizer for this Road Trip, contact Dick Kloppel (dick_kloppel@charter.net) and let him know of your willingness to organize the trip and he’ll let others know.

Due to lack of participation, the Municipal Band Concert group is no longer making a special effort to meet before concerts on Wednesdays.

OWL (Our Whole Lives) Facilitator (Teacher) Training

Our congregation, in partnership with Christ United Methodist Church, is hosting a facilitator training for OWL- Our Whole Lives Sexual Education, September 15-17.  This program, developed by the United Church of Christ and The    Unitarian Universalist Association, is an award-winning resource based on values such as self-worth, responsibility, sexual health, and justice and inclusivity.   OWL provides “accurate, developmental appropriate information in human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture.  Christ United Methodist began using OWL last year, and several UCC congregations in Montana also use this resource.  Please contact Rev. Lynne or Janet Koostra if you are interested in becoming a facilitator or would like to help provide meals or in-home hospitality for the training. Learn more at http://www.ucc.org/justice_sexuality-education_our-whole-lives .

PASTOR’S OFFICE HOURS

Pastor Lynne’s new church and community office hours have changed as follows:

Church

Sundays after worship as needed
Monday & Tuesday 9:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Wednesdays 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M., 6:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Thursdays 1:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M

FROM OUR PASTOR

 BELONGING

John O’Donohue writes “While our culture is all gloss and pace on the outside, within it is too often haunted and lost. The commercial edge of so-called “progress” has cut away a huge region of human tissue and webbing that held us in communion with one another. We have fallen out of belonging.” (from “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings”)  More and more, I am hearing about how our culture is shifting into one where people no longer seek a place to belong or a group to belong to or with. But, we are not created to be without a clan, a herd, a group. We are designed to belong. So Mr. O’Donohue has written a book of blessings for the space between us. He offers blessings for traveling, beginnings, thresholds, endings, and beyond endings. How can you not be connected to someone or something once a blessing has been given? When a blessing is offered, the space is filled with the sacred. As Mr. O’Donohue puts it, “…it is a gracious invocation where the human heart pleads with the divine heart.” Blessings open the door to belonging.   Churches are keenly aware of the shift in our culture away from belonging. We see it in the open spaces in sanctuaries across the country. We know it as we look at the vacancies on committees and boards. We are frustrated by it as we wonder where are the youth and those who would lead and teach them as in days gone by. Over the years, churches have tried coercion, shaming, pleading, bargaining, and gimmicks to fill those spaces between those who belong to a church and those who do not. What if instead of all of those, we simply blessed the space between us, recognizing that the divine is indeed in the midst of those who do not sit in our sanctuary? What if we were to step into the world of those who find a sense of belonging somewhere else as a way to honor the universal sacredness and expansiveness of God? What if we were to bless the empty chair beside us in gratitude for those who have sat there in the past and those who may do so in the future, even if it were to be for a wedding or a funeral which may be the only time they enter a church sanctuary? What if we were to be open to the blessings that someone we don’t know might be offering for us? It could mean that we would more fully live into belonging to the body of Christ in it’s most sincerest form – that of bridging the gap between the human and divine.   So, blessings to you.

“May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.”  Lynne