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

CAMP MIMANAGISH APPEAL UPDATE

Consider Camp Mimanagish for Lent.  Lent begins March 6th. It’s all about deepening your spirituality and commitment to faith. You might consider using the time to support your commitment to outdoor ministry by using the 40 days of Lent as a basis for supporting this year’s Mimanagish Appeal. Consider a daily Lenten offering of $1, $2, $5 or whatever other figure will fit in your budget. Each day of Lent, spend some time in prayer and reflection on the benefits of outdoor ministry and for its success this coming summer season and then place your desired amount in a special “Lenten Camp Offering” container. Bring your full container (or a check that represents that amount) to church on Easter and celebrate the resurrection by doing your part to ensure the new life that people experience at camp. We are half way to our goal of $3,000 with $1,520 being collected to date.

What camp will you attend this year?  Visit www.mimanagish.org to see all the possibilities.  And remember, camp is not just for kids. Registrations for all camps are due April 1st!

ALL CHURCH ADULT RETREAT

Join us for a weekend of reflection and fellowship starting with dinner on Friday evening and finishing Saturday afternoon.  The Memorial Corporation has generously offered to cover all costs for the retreat.

Theme:  I Know We’re All Welcome…  Focus Scriptures: Luke 6: 27-31 and 37-38; Psalm 133

Facilitator: Rev. Laura Folkwein, MSW – Rev. Laura Folkwein, MSW, grew up as a United Methodist preacher’s kid in various small Montana towns (like Valier and Harlowton). She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. After studying in Mexico and living in Washington, D.C., she earned a dual Master of Social Work and M.Div from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology in 2005. She has worked in non-profit and faith community leadership for over twenty years and is passionate about social justice, inclusion, creative worship and chocolate. She returned to Montana in 2014 and currently serves as the Small Group Ministries Coordinator at University Congregational UCC and Development Coordinator at the Poverello Center in Missoula. Laura lives with her partner and their pets: a bossy cat and a rabbit named “Moose.” In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, speaking Spanish, reading, and watching bad television.

Jesus’ commandment is to love one another, even our enemies. But that can be hard to do. Using Janice Springer’s wonderful book, “I Know We’re All Welcome at the Table, But Do I Have to Sit Next to You?” as a guide, we will reflect individually and together on the challenges and joys of accepting each other and building a generous and inclusive community.

Many things keep us separated from the people we like and love. The forces that divide us from those we perceive as our enemies or those who we simply don’t like very much are even stronger. How might we work together and individually, practically and spiritually, to be more welcoming and grace-filled? We will explore this simple yet powerful prayer, “O God, bless them. Change me,” to enter more deeply into these questions and to encounter Jesus’ command that we love one another, even our enemies.

To Register:  Sign up on the clipboard in the narthex by March 15th. You can also register by calling Holly in the church office, 453-4316. For additional information, call Karen Spencer, 727-6162.

A LITTLE HISTORY AND POTENTIAL CHANGE FOR THE FUTURE

Many years ago, before we were located at the corner of 29th Street and 9th Avenue South, we rented space from Central Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church. We also shared a church secretary. Because it was back in the day when more office work was done by hand, things like printing annual reports and processing annual pledge drive information for two churches was more than one person could take on. To accommodate, we shifted our election of officers and fiscal cycle to run June through May. Although that was a helpful way to even out the clerical duties, it created some challenges in other areas. Some of these are outlined below. Your Church Council will be bringing to the Annual Meeting a proposal to shift back to a January – December fiscal and election cycle. This will require a change in our church bylaws.

Why change? Each year, we are expected to submit a report for the Conference and National offices so they can have a clearer picture of the health of our congregations. We report on members, attendance, education and youth ministries, and our outreach to the community. We also report on our finances. Since these reports are done on a calendar year format, it’s time consuming to put together these figures when our financials are offset by several months. In addition, the pastor’s health, dental, life and disability insurance premiums are set on a January – December basis. Currently, as we set our budget to begin in June, we often end up being off budget in these areas if premiums go up at the end of the year. By shifting to a calendar year fiscal cycle, we would be more in line with other existing church financial patterns.

A shift to a calendar year fiscal cycle would require that we hold a congregational meeting in December or, more likely, in January. Since we would be holding that meeting, it would make sense to elect leadership at the same time.

You are invited to give this some thought and consideration. Remember that the original reason that we made the shift to a June – May cycle no longer exists. Because of electronic data storage and processing, tracking pledges is considerably less time consuming. Compiling and printing of annual reports is also less taxing through the use of electronic printers that do a lot of the work for us.

Upcoming issues of The Good News will present some of the common concerns that are raised and a response to those concerns. The council would also like to have you share any additional concerns and will do their best to take them into consideration. Council members are: Hank Branom, Dick Kloppel, Sara Branom, Mende Kloppel, Elaine Balzer, Susan Thomas, Mary Fry, Carol Noble, Dave Neagle, Karen Spencer, Greg Smith and Jaybe Floyd.

FROM THE PASTOR

“I DON’T KNOW”

Somewhere in the depths of my soul, I’ve carried the notion that I was supposed to be knowledgeable about many things. It’s been just the last few years that I’ve been able to comfortably say out loud and in public, “I don’t know.”

How freeing it has been! It’s a burden to hold on to the unrealistic expectation that you can know more than you do. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with learning more than what you know now or being knowledgeable in many things. But to expect that you (or anyone) will know something about everything is just over the top.

When we admit that we just don’t know some things it not only frees us from the burden of needing to know everything, it means we have the chance to share the load with others. It’s been rewarding to say “I don’t know so let’s look for the answer together.” I see others being empowered when I seek out those who know the things I don’t. Sometimes it’s even comforting to sit with people in the midst of not knowing together, especially when it’s around some of life’s hard questions.

I am thankful for the things that I know. I am also grateful for the things I don’t know. Admitting that I have some limitations is not only freeing, it’s just one more reason that I can turn to God and rejoice that God doesn’t expect me to know everything and loves me anyway. And that is something that I do know!

May you have a blessed week of knowing and not-knowing.  Rev. Lynne