The Disciples Voice – November December Edition
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Mission & Ministry
- Thanksgiving Day Offering November 11 & 18
The Thanksgiving Special Offering benefits the Colleges, Universities, Seminaries, and Divinity Houses affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). These learning communities are an extension of the church, challenging students to understand and respond to God’s call to serve. The Thanksgiving Offering also provides scholarship and support for those pursuing theological education at one of our seven seminaries or divinity houses.
- November PRAYERS
Local: Rising childhood poverty forcing parents to choose between food or rent, & children going to bed hungry.
Regional: That differences strengthen & not divide us, to practice hospitality with neighbors as God has welcomed us.
Global: To be good stewards of our world, asking God daily for how to best serve.
- 16 7 p.m. Reinventing Power film & discussion
- 17 8 a.m. Live Nativity Build
- 18 Consecration Sunday Soup & Cheese Celebration
“One More Vote (for Christ)”
On Consecration Sunday let’s put our wins (or losses) at the ballot box aside and vote for our True Leader whom we can all get behind with our commitment to His mission.
I’m reminding you to please plan to attend service this coming Sunday, November 18th and give as your heart directs to the ministry and mission of Compass Christian Church. Thank you already for all you do, and we look forward to your support on that Sunday, as well as, your presence at lunch afterward for our celebration of ministry and commitment to the new year.
Lindsay B. Stewardship Chair
With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Micah 6:6
The answer to Micah’s question throughout the Hebrew Scriptures is “first fruits,” referring to a portion of the harvest. There are two Hebrew words for such and the first is bikkurim. It refers specifically to first-ripe grain and fruit, harvested and offered at the Temple. It includes wheat, figs or fruits in general, or grapes. The second word is resit referring to “first” or “beginning” of a series and also “choicest.” It designates processed produce rather than freshly picked. It includes dough or parched grain, new wine or honey, and even wool. It ’s figuratively applied to Israel, the first fruits of God’s harvest (Jer 2:3). In several places, the two terms are used together and mean “the finest of the first fruits.”
While no Jerusalem Temple stands and we’re not farming or shepherding anymore, each November we celebrate the bounty of God’s blessings within the church with Consecration Sunday and in homes with Thanksgiving. The bikkurim reminds us to give thanks for the unprocessed bounty of God’s abundant earth that feeds us daily. The resit reminds us to give thanks for what we make of the gifts God has given us, of how the raw talents we’ve received are developed and shared. Both together remind us that God expects and deserves only the very best of what we’ve received and who we are becoming.
In Israel’s agrarian society, “first fruit” celebrations weren’t limited to a single day like Thanksgiving or a single Consecration Sunday. Because barley ripens first, during Passover a sheaf of it was dedicated to God as first fruits. Seven weeks later on Pentecost was another “first fruit” celebration of the wheat harvest and bread was dedicated. This reminds us that Thanksgiving isn’t restricted to a single day or season, but that giving thanks and dedicating “first fruits” can and should happen all year round. Gratitude mustn’t be limited to the year’s end.
What the Hebrew Scriptures take literally the New Testament takes figuratively. The Greek word aparche or “beginning” translates the Hebrew concept of “first fruits.” Just as literal first fruits are a harbinger and sample of the full harvest, the presence of the Holy Spirit (given at Pentecost) with the believer is a foretaste of what’s yet to come. We have “the first fruits of the Spirit” and are the “first fruits” of God’s people. Just as literal first fruits are first in the sequence, so Epaenetus and Stephanas were the first fruit converts in Asia and Achaia, respectively. Combining harbinger and first, in sequence, Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits of those who have died” (1 Cor 15:20, 23). His heralds our own and gives us a sample of what awaits those dedicated to him. It is because the Church shares the holy root of Israel, already declared a “first fruit” by God, that wild Gentile olive branches are also holy.
The Holy Spirit makes possible a new beginning each day! We each have a foretaste of what’s yet to come! Each has been blessed by a “first fruit” parent or friend that helped convert us! A resurrection like Christ’s own awaits us! Within the Church, we share Israel’s holiness! With what shall we come before the Lord? A basket full to overflowing of praises without end! – Troy
- 20 1:00 p.m. Women’s Bible Study
- 21 No Choirs
- 22 Happy Thanksgiving ~Office closed
- 23 Queen City Kitchen
- 24 Hanging of Greens – following worship approx noon
- 25 Advent Devotionals Available
Advent starts December 2nd. We have two devotionals for you to choose from. One is for families with young children “Peace on Earth”. The other is called “Journey into the Light” for all the other families. You may pick yours up starting Sunday, Nov. 25th.
- 27 1:00 p.m. Women’s Bible Study
- 2 Adult Education starts…
- 8 Live Nativity 1 – 4 p.m.
- 8 An Advent Retreat for Women 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- 13 Cincinnati Civic Orchestra 7 p.m.
- 16 Christmas Cantata during service 10:30 a.m.
- 24 Christmas Eve Service 5 p.m.
Sunday School for ages PreSchool through Fifth Grade is off and running! Katie and Zach B. are teaching the elementary aged children and Leann W. is teaching the Preschoolers. Come at 9:30 -There is always room for more!
A big thank you to Betty B., Sarah F., and Maureen M. for being willing to substitute for Katie, Zach, and Leann!
Deborah T. and Jamie B. organized a Youth Fellowship time. Chi Rho and CYF youth and their friends enjoyed an Escape Room experience!
Maureen M. organized a pizza and craft family activity. There were 10 children and 10 adults who participated and we will soon get to see the fruits of their labor! Anyone can plan a fellowship time for any and all ages! If you have an idea for an activity or mission project, just let Carol Y. know. Anyone can plan, organize and/or lead an activity. Just let me know what you need!
Camp Christian Fundraiser
Camp Fund Raiser Tickets $1 each Six for $5.00
Checks should be made payable to Camp Christian with “principal on loan” marked on the memo line. Send to Mantua Center Christian Church Attn: Nora Brant P.O. Box 550 Mantua, OH 44255. Include a contact phone number with your check.
You will be assigned a number and that number will be marked on the back of each of your tickets so you don’t need to send address labels, worry about keeping track of a ticket stub, or need to be present for the drawing. How simple is that? All money must be received by December 20th. The winner will be drawn on Christmas Eve and notified by phone.
With the blessing of its designer, Christopher Florence, I (Nora Bryant) have pieced this quilt to offer as a fundraiser for the Camp Christian mortgage reduction project. The quilt is titled Passages and the blue blocks are the King Jehoshaphat block.
The quilt’s story tells three things:
- King Jehoshaphat found himself in a predicament caused by others greed. He did everything in his power to defuse the situation but it wasn’t enough.
- He turned to God and acknowledged His omnipotence.
- Because he had seen the power of God in previous situations he prayed to God to protect his people and God responded.
I saw so many parallels between King Jehoshaphat’s situation and the one our Camp Christian was experiencing. Our state leaders have been left with a need to protect our people and property because of many mistakes made by others in the past. As a former camper, my heart ached at others not having the Camp Christian experience. As the mother of a camper, who when diagnosed with terminal cancer at 22 called on her Camp Christian friends for support and they were there for her through the darkest days when others walked away. I wanted others to know the blessing of such lasting Camp Christian friendships. As a member of the Ohio church at large, I wanted to challenge others with the opportunity to help make this dream a reality for our future campers and others who will use this beautiful home to God’s living spirit. I am praying that you will respond.
Coins for CAMP Update
In 2013, the Ohio Region took out a mortgage on Camp Christian in the amount of $389,000. Some of that was used to pay off a previous loan, and some went toward a few improvements at Camp Christian. In November 2017, the Christian Church in Ohio was out of money. The Ohio Region is currently functioning through help from the Indianapolis office, and other regional support.
In May 2018, the mortgage balance on Camp Christian was $211,923. The mortgage payment was $3,700 per month. With the cooperation of the Board of Church Extension that holds the mortgage for Camp, Ohio was permitted to be responsible for only $800 interest per month.
Al Channell, the Camp Superintendent, spoke to every summer camp group at the end of their week and enlisted help to pay down the mortgage for Camp Christian. They passed out milk jugs for the collection of Coins for CAMP Campaign.
Many plans to reduce that mortgage came out of Al’s plea for help. Campers went home with the milk jugs and began filling them with profits from lemonade stands, bookmarkers, cookie sales, special church offerings, and many other ways. As of Friday, September 28, 2018, the Camp Christian Mortgage balance was $112,888.03.
ON-SITE at the Regional Assembly, we collected:
- $19,367.59 – in donations to the “Coins for Camp” Campaign, PLUS the $10,000 Matching gift for “Coins for Camp” for a total of $29,367.59 going to pay off the Camp Christian Mortgage Loan Principal from this Campaign!!
- $2,490.00 – Collected during the Closing Worship Offering These were designated by their donors to:
- $437.00 – Camp Christian Mortgage Loan Principal
- $1,703.00 – Christian Church in Ohio / Regional Church
- $247.00 – Camp Christian Operating
- Plus $103.00 split up between Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation, Christmas Offering, Disciples Mission Fund, and the Youth Scholarship Fund.
- Also, we received $6,300.00 in separate gifts designated to the Camp Christian Mortgage Loan Principal.
That’s a grand total of $38,157.59 received in donations onsite at Regional Assembly!!
The love and generosity from around Ohio & beyond is awesome and we are so blessed!! The ministry of Camp Christian and the Regional Church is clearly important to a lot of faithful people around Ohio and the country.
There is still work to do! There are many plans underway to help fund Camp Christian and work has been started to create a 501(c)(3) Foundation to make Camp Christian a private entity.
As of 11/9/18, our Camp Christian mortgage is $56,542.59…YES!!!!! It was $211,923 in May 2018…You and the children of the Ohio Region have reduced the mortgage by $155,380.41 in a little over five months! Keep the love coming! And THANK YOU!
Reach Out with Helping Hands
Reach Out Lakota Holiday Program:
2018 Angel Tree Program – collection for Reach Out Lakota
Bookmarks with a child’s age and gender are available at the back of the church in the library section. Items will need to be delivered to the church by Sunday the 2nd of December. Please place the tag on your purchase for ease of sorting. Thank You!!
Once a year I coordinate the Angel Tree Program (Reach Out Lakota’s Holiday Giving Program). I took over this ministry after Amy B. moved away. She did an outstanding job organizing this program and providing me with all the necessary documentation and instructions.
The coordinators contact me around Thanksgiving timeframe. They mail the tags indicating the age and gender of the recipient. We participate in this program because it serves about 800 local children and their families. The organizers do the work, and our church community generously donates. Gifts are conveniently dropped off and sorted at Journey Church – which is very close to CCC. It’s such a treasured blessing for me to pack all the gifts in my car and bring them over to Journey, even when I drove my Mini Cooper.
Programs like Toys for Tots have drop-off locations. Last years was in Deerfield Township. Any toys can be dropped off. Having the name, age, and gender of a child makes it more personal than just a drop-off location.
I got involved because I was led by God to help out kids and families in the holiday times. If you are struggling, the holidays can be very stressful. Last year Reach Out Lakota collected 1,500 gifts to distribute. I grew up poor, but we always had something under the tree. My dad and I would have a ritual of getting up before anyone, going down to the tree, touching, shaking all the presents; making guesses as to what they were. It was one of my most precious memories. I want everyone to have a chance to experience the same holiday joy.
How can you get involved? Pick any name(s) off the Angel Tree. Instructions provided indicate the dollar amounts to purchase and the date they should be dropped off at the church. Just drop off the unwrapped gifts and their tag placing them around our Angel Tree. I also attach an online donation link so people can donate directly to this great ministry.
DONATE Contribute online via the DONATE link or Donations earmarked for our Holiday Giving program may also be made via check by mailing us at P.O. Box 362, West Chester, Ohio 45071
Thank you to each of you for your prayers, support, and generosity that make the holidays special for each child that receives a gift.
Queen City Kitchen – Holiday in the Hills:
News from Our Haiti Missionary
In an email to the office Michelle M. wrote:
I write a newsletter each quarter for Global Ministries about my experiences here in Haiti. I would like to let CCC know how to access this newsletter.
To find my newsletters, go to GlobalMinistries.org, from the top menu bar, click on People in Mission, and click on my picture. Or type the link below: https://www.globalministries.org/michelle_mckay
I also have my own website: writing-in-the-margins.com. Its where I post lagniappe (Cajun for “extra stuff”) that isn’t just official communications for Global Ministries.
Michelle McKay serves with the National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH). Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS, and your special gifts.
Who is My Neighbor?
With all the anger, hatred & violence recently in our country, we need to take a step back and reflect on the question asked of Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Please come and look for these books – and many others – that can help us find ways to know and love our neighbors.
Other Disciples of Christ News
Interim Regional Minister’s Concluding Pastoral Letter
October 31, 2018
Dear Christian Church in Ohio,
Today is my last “official” day to serve as your interim regional minister. We have been on a challenging journey the past 16 months. In April of last year, I told the Executive Committee that I could not save the region of Ohio, but I would do my best to walk along beside the regional church as together we worked our way through challenging issues. At that time, we later came to learn, we really did not know the magnitude of the challenges facing our regional church.
I vividly remember an evening this past winter—in February, I think. Jeannine was visiting our grandchildren in
Chicago. It was dark and cold outside. That evening, as I sat on the sofa in our apartment, I was overwhelmed by how much the Christian Church in Ohio had lost: relationships, trust, ministries, staff, money, identity, confidence, hope, even faith. It was like a death in the family. So many were hurting.
By the grace of God, by the diligent work of many individuals, and by the willingness of all to listen to God’s calling to us to continue the journey—through the pain, through a very lean time of disciplined fiscal affairs, where we have had to lean on each other, receive generously from the general church, and give more generously, and into a time of uncertainty, transition and dialogue about what might be—toward a future to which God is leading us, where we may discover hope anew.
Over the past 18 months, we have discovered more than we ever wanted to know about what could go wrong with the regional church. Over the next 18 months, we are given the opportunity to discover how to be regional church—the Christian Church in Ohio—in new, creative, faithful, and imaginative ways, as we live into God’s calling on our lives.
Over the past decade many, outside our denomination, have said to us: Disciples of Christ, you are the church for the 21st Century. Friends now are our opportunity to live into the beauty others see in us as followers of Jesus. Maybe we have been given a gift? The world is waiting for us to open the gift—becoming all God intended us to be!
I have witnessed other churches and large faith-based organizations face financial insolvency and organizational
disorientation. Through prayer and discernment, the leaders affirmed their mission and ministry were vital. The respective leaders and governance groups decided to lean in, face the challenges, work diligently, with integrity and with disciplined fiscal oversight. There was no quick fix. Hard decisions had to be made. But today each of those faith-based organizations is healthy and fulfilling their mission and purpose. So too can the Christian Church in Ohio.
While driving to Columbus on June 25, 2017, I stopped at a City Barbeque just off I-71 on the north side of Cincinnati for a late lunch. I’ve been invited to enjoy City Barbeque today, as I leave Magnetic Springs. During the intervening months, I have tried to listen to your stories. I believe that is the best way to get to know each other, to develop respect for one another, and even to grow to love each other.
I have tried to listen patiently and carefully. I apologize for the times I have failed. And, through listening, I have grown to love you, Ohio Disciples.
I will always cherish the opportunity to live in the Ezerins House for the past three months, and to learn the story of Magnus Ezerins and his family. Out of the generosity of your hearts, you welcomed this war refugee family from Latvia to Camp Christian, and for 30 years they lived among you and served the camp and conference ministry of this region with you.
I am told that on July 4, 1976, during the bicentennial year of our nation, Magnus had a red ribbon cutting ceremony to open a new concrete sidewalk to the girls’ cabins. As he cut the ribbon he said to those gathered, “This is my gift to you. Your gift to me was saving my family’s life. I will forever be grateful.”
This is, I believe, the story of who you are as regional church—as Disciples of Christ—a welcoming, generous and faithful people. I love you.
I conclude my service as your interim regional minister with these words of blessing, which are frequently shared by my regional ministry colleague and friend, Bill Rose-Heim: “…may there be more than a few unexpected blessings that surprise and delight you, as together we journey into the future – reminding us that God has more faith in us than we will ever have in God.”
Grace and peace to all,
John M. Richardson
Interim Regional Minister (Retired)