Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Sermon Series

Restore Us, O God -- An Advent Series Based on the Psalm Readings and Linked to the Four Candles of the Advent Wreath

The first three psalms (80, 85 and 126, Advent 1, 2, 3) all contain the verb "to restore." This suggests a theme that speaks to the spiritual hunger within all of us -- that of having once known a very precious truth that has somehow slipped from our grasp. The human dilemma is that we spend a lot of time groping on our hands and knees in the dark, hoping to find a light that will reveal the meaning of life, or a lantern that will light our path. What we need is a Savior, the Light of the World, to come to us and reveal the truth, and perhaps to remind us that the treasure we've been seeking isn't the true treasure after all. Although the word "restore" is not used in the Psalm reading for Advent 4, clearly the writer feels that God's love for the people of God has been restored; once again, the love of God as evinced through God's faithfulness has been decisively demonstrated, and certainly the incarnational act is the ultimate evidence that God has not abandoned us, but rather loves us, is committed to us and indeed is among us.

Advent 1, November 27: Restoration of Hope

Advent 2, December 4: Restoration of Peace

Advent 3, December 11: Restoration of Joy

Advent 4: December 18: Restoration of Love

Advent Reflection

Dear Faith Friends,

Advent is the first season in the church liturgical year. It begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25 each year. Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus on Christmas.

Historically, the primary sanctuary color for Advent has been purple. There has been an increasing trend to supplant the color purple with blue as the primary color for Advent in the past several years. Blue is a color associated with hopefulness and promise. Advent, symbolized by the color blue, becomes a season of hopeful preparation for Bethlehem and the consummation of history in God’s rule on earth.

Advent scripture and music focus on God’s coming into the world in the past, our own preparations for God’s presence in our lives now, and our hopes for the presence of God in our world in the future. We combine our past, present, and future during Advent as we celebrate Emmanuel (God-with-us).

The season of Advent ends on Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Only then do we turn our thoughts to the stories of Jesus’ birth, the star, the shepherds, and rejoicing. Only when we have fully prepared through Advent can we sing the songs of Christmas and proclaim that God has come to us and remains with us now and always.

Prepare for God. Be ready for God. Don’t rush to the end! Don’t hurry by! Watch, look, hope, and know that in the preparing, the ready, the unhurried pace to grace, God can be seen and found. Mark Advent well so that Christmas Joy will be a real experience and not merely a nice feeling.

Peace and Good Cheer,

Rev. Bob

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mission 1: Results for Faith UCC

Between 11/01/11 and 11/11/11, Faith United Church of Christ joined the rest of the United Church of Christ in Mission 1. The national UCC asked local churches to contribute 11 million non-perishable food items to local food banks; raise $11,111 in on-line contributions to the Neighbors in Needs offering to fight hunger in this country and around the world; and send 11,000 letters to members of Congress asking them to adequately fund hunger programs in this country and around the world.

Our local goal was:
111 non-perishable food items
111 rolls of toilet paper (requested by local Crisis Center)
$111.11 to be sent to the national office for hunger relief
11 letters to be sent to Legislatures/members of Congress

The final tally for Faith UCC was:
113 food items collected (weighed in at 100 lbs of food)
123 rolls of toilet paper
$243.33 collected
23 letters sent

Thanks to all for the success of Mission 1!

-Missions Committee

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Faith In Action's Readings with Soup -- 11/17/11 at 6:00 PM

Faith In Action is excited to revive it's Readings with Soup events later this month.  FIA is excited to feature Iowa City Writer, Joe Michaud!  Joe ran the Bookery for twenty-five years.  He is the author of Along the Iron Curtain, Booking in Iowa, and Iowa City, City of the Book.

Thursday -- November 17, 2011
6:00 PM Free Soup Supper
6:45 PM Program and Open Mike

Everyone is Welcome!  Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 DeForest Avenue in Iowa City.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mission: 1 United Church of Christ Challenge

The first 11 days of November 2011 ---11/1-11/11 are days for the entire United Church of Christ to share in mission together. Nationally the United Church of Christ is asking local churches to contribute 11 million non-perishable food items to local food banks; raise $11,111.00 in on-line contributions for Neighbors In Need offering to fight hunger in this country and around the world; send 11,000 letters to members of Congress asking them to adequately fund hunger programs in this country and around the world.

Faith United Church of Christ is challenged by the Social Missions Committee to bring 111 non-perishable food items and 111 rolls of toilet paper to be delivered to the Crisis Center on November 12. The second challenge is to give and/or pledge funds to make a $111.11 contribution to the Neighbors in Need offering to fight hunger, on-line during worship November 6. Your financial contribution can be given to the church via cash or check between now and November 11. Please make sure you clearly identify your gift as one to Mission 1. The third challenge will be to sign a letter to either Senators Harkin or Grassley or Congressman Lobsack asking for support for funding hunger programs. Prepared letters will be available at the church from November 1 through November 10. You are asked to hand address the salutation of the letter to either Senator or the Congressman and then address the provided envelope. Letters will be collected and mailed on November 11, 2011.

These are significant challenges. This mission effort will have great impact in our community and in communities around the United Church of Christ. Let us all help make a better world by sharing as we can in this effort.

Come Worship and Grow at Faith United Church of Christ!

Sunday Worship at Faith United Church of Christ is an important way for us to celebrate our faith in God. We can share our faith together and with others. Why not invite someone to join you in worship? Please come and worship with us.

November 6, 2011, we will celebrate communion. Please know that the Table is open to all who profess a belief in Jesus Christ. Message title will be: "Murphy's Law Inverted."

November 13, 2011, Message title: "Snake Eyes -- Servant Eyes."

November 20, 2011, is Shared Ministry with Ann Zerkel.

November 27, 2011, Message title: "Restore Us, O God: Hope."

Following worship, Faith UCC has the following Christian Education sessions planned:

November 6, 2011: Congregational Conversation Part 3 & Evalia Hauck & the Intergenerational Group

November 13, 2011: Book Study: "The Greatest Prayer"

November 20, 2011: Film: "The Dark Side of Chocolate"

November 27, 2011: Advent Series: "Hope"

Worship begins every Sunday at 9:30 AM and Christian Education begins shortly after worship service (@ 10:45-11:00 AM). Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 Deforest Avenue in Iowa City. All are welcome to join our worship services.

November Message from Pastor Bob Loffer

Dear Faith Friends:

November is Native American Heritage Month, National Epilepsy Month, Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Adoption Awareness Month, and a whole lot of other “Months” as well. November contains Chemistry week (week one) and Games and Puzzles week (week three). Every day in November has a special designation (and some have more than one); from “All Saints Day” November 1 to “Clean Your Refrigerator Day” November 15 to “Stay At Home Because You Are Well Day” November 30 The sublime and serious, (November 2 “All Soul’s Day,” November 3 “Housewife’s Day,” November 8 “Young Readers Day,” November 11 “Veterans Day,” November 24 “Thanksgiving Day”) to the silly and commercial (November 5 “Gun Powder Day,” November 7 “Bitter Sweet Chocolate with Almonds Day,” November 16 “Have A Party With Your Bear Day,” November 17 “Electronic Greeting Card Day,” November 25 (day after Thanksgiving) “Black Friday.” The Great American Smokeout Day (November 17), Universal Children’s Day (November 20), and Square Dance Day (November 29) are just a few more.

Different days, different events, different reasons to remember, reflect, recall, recommit, reconnect, and renew our lives, our passions, our hopes and dreams. What do we do with all those suggestions? Some silly, some serious, some border on absurd, others on reverence, perhaps a reflection of life in this 21st Century?

Each day is a gift. Whatever cause, whatever reason, whatever the day, each day, all day, is a gift for us to use to the very best of our ability.

How many of our days have been wasted on spite, revenge, hatred, bigotry, and abuse? How many of our days have been spent seeking what’s best for us rather than serving others? How many days have been consumed by complaining and whining about what we don’t have and how others are “out to get us”?

November days (or for that matter any months’ days) are filled with opportunities for us to remember the gifts of our past, (think November 1 All Saints Day, November 11 Veterans Day) reflect on the gifts of the present, (think November 13 World Kindness Day, November 24 Thanksgiving Day) and recommit, reconnect, and renew our lives for the future, (think November 17 “World Peace Day,” November 20 “Beautiful Day”). How will we spend our November days or any days?

A gift, each day is. Thanksgiving is a way of living, not for just a day, but a lifetime of days. Whether more days are behind than ahead matters not. How the days ahead are spent matters most.

Peace, Good Cheer, Thanksgiving, and Blessings from God,
Bob

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blessing of the Animals Service Planned for 7:00 PM on Tuesday, October 4th!

Everyone is invited to join members and friends of Faith United Church of Christ on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, for a "Blessing of Pets" worship experience.  We will gather in the church yard (weather permitting) at 7:00 PM and proceed into the worship area from there.  Scriptures, prayers, and songs will lead us into the blessing of pets and owners.

Invite your neighbors, families, and friends!  Oh, and don't forget their pets as well!

Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 Deforest Avenue in Iowa City.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Come Worship at Faith United Church of Christ!

Sunday Worship at Faith United Church of Christ is an important way for us to celebrate our faith in God.  We can share our faith together and with others.  Why not invite someone to join you in worship?  Please come and worship with us.

October 2, 2011, we will celebrate communion.  Please know that the Table is open to all who profess a belief in Jesus Christ.  Message title will be: "The Church is where Money Matters."

October 9, 2011, Message title: "The Stewardship Paradox."

Rev. Bob Loffer will deliver the messages for October 2 and 9.  He will be out of the pulpit October 16 and 23.

October 16, 2011, is Shared Ministry with Mark Holbrook and Jon Trouten.

October 23, 2011, worship will be led by Marilyn Calkins, Carl Fongheiser, and Marlene Neville.

October 30, 2011, Bob will return and will lead worship with the Message title "Roll, Jordan, Roll."  This will also be the Sunday we will receive our 2012 financial commitments and our shared ministry commitments.  Please sign up for your Shared Ministry opportunities and bring your pledge card to worship.

October Minister's Musing from Pastor Bob Loffer

Dear Friends:

This community of faith known as Faith United Church of Christ has most certainly had its lift off into fall mission and ministry. WOW!

The back-to-school back pack program was, again, a HUGH success. We continue our mission and ministry with Twain Elementary through packing food packs each school week for 36 students to take home Friday. Another new item is collecting yarn and knitting needles for use in a knitting class for students held at Twain.

The annual winter clothing drive is underway. Your clean, used, winter coats are needed for distribution on the second Saturday in October.

A blessing of the animals service is planned for Tuesday, October 4 at 7 p.m. Plan to come with your pets and invite your friends and neighbors to come and bring their pets as well.

Christian education will be provided in an inter-generational setting this year. Each Sunday following worship and fellowship different programs will be offered. A variety of activities will include some cooking and food preparation, Bible discussion, book study, information on community and denominational programs, and other events still in the planning stages.

The annual shared ministry sign-up and stewardship program will be held during October. Please do prayerfully consider sharing your gifts of ministry and your financial resources for the work God has called us to do in this place.

More opportunities for mission and ministry are described elsewhere in this newsletter. Many other ministry and mission activities continue in the life of Faith UCC as our social justice ministry continues with different groups within the Iowa City community.

The worship life of Faith also continues to grow and mature. We need to share in worship together to gain perspective, courage, and strength for our ministry. Please join us for worship 9:30 a.m. Sunday mornings.

Our mission and ministry require commitments of time, talent, energy, and financial resources. My experience with Faith UCC shows a tremendous dedication to the sharing of those resources. Thank you!!!

Peace and Good Cheer,

Bob

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Come to Faith UCC's Harvest Dinner -- Saturday, October 1, at 6:00 PM!

Dear Faith Members and Friends,

The harvest season is fast approaching and it’s time for us to start considering how Faith United Church of Christ can reap the harvest of our time, talents, and monetary gifts.

Faith UCC’s Shared Ministry and Stewardship campaigns will kick off with an Autumn Gathering on Saturday, October 1. The fun-filled evening will begin at 6 PM with a wonderful soup supper. The soup is being prepared by a guest chef. The rest of the evening meal will be provided by Faith’s own council members (I have been advised that at least a couple of the members think that dessert is the most important part of the meal!).

After the meal, you will be asked to thoughtfully and prayerfully decide how you can share your time and talents for Faith’s Shared Ministry program. You will also be asked to consider how your pledged monetary gifts can help Faith UCC meet its financial obligations, continue to run its programs, and help us dream to add more programming.

The evening promises to be filled with sumptuous food, laughter, lively fellowship, wonderful food, skit(s), tongue-tempting food, door prizes and – OH – did I mention food?

Before we gather in October, please consider how you can participate in the Shared Ministry program and how you may contribute financially to Faith Church. And then on October 1 at 6 PM please join your Faith Family at Faith United Church of Christ to share your time, talents, monetary gifts, friendship, laughter, and an awesome meal!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Come Worship at Faith United Church of Christ!

Why not join us Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. for worship? Why not bring someone who hasn’t ever been in worship at Faith? Why not bring someone who hasn’t been in worship at Faith for a while? Why not?

September 4 “Chronos or Kairos?”
September 11 “A Dirty Job”
September 18 Shared Ministry Sunday
September 25 Jesus-A ‘Tiger’ Parent?”

Rev. Bob Loffer, our Interim Pastor, will deliver the message on September 4, 11, and 25. Our shared ministry team will lead worship on September 18.

You will be welcome! Come on, why not?

Back To School Back Packs!

Last month, Faith United Church of Christ banded together to provide home-made backpacks for students at Mark Twain Elementary School.  Altogether, 160 backpacks were distributed to students.  Each backpack was filled with needed school supplies, such as notebooks and folders and pencils and tissues.  Project organizer Pam Zehr shared the recent observations in the church's September 2011 newsletter:
How do I thank a community of people for believing in a cause so deeply? For rallying around a neighborhood. For supporting children and families we’ve never met, just because it’s the right thing to do. Not just say the words, but put energy and effort and resources behind those words. I’m quite at a loss.

We asked for zip lock bags, and created a Zip Lock Lincoln Log train car that was stacked so high it risked toppling. We asked for pencils, and received so many our Pencil Platform was overflowing. We asked for tissues, and the A’Cho Cho Train stretched full circle (and then some!) around the entire sanctuary with 165 “box cars” of tissues placed end to end. It was an amazing sight to behold. We asked for money to purchase additional supplies, and as the receipts are totaled we should have money left over for next year. Again, an incredible response to our calls for help.

I asked for help sewing the backpacks and had 12 eager volunteers. Together we stitched 200 backpacks of different designs and fabrics that will hopefully be enjoyed and last beyond the school year.

We asked for help packing the backpacks, and had an astonishing turn out. So many volunteers stayed after church that Sunday that we stood shoulder to shoulder in the large classroom. We had people stationed at the school supplies, and people carrying bags around the room, looking like Trick or Treat-ers as they filled their sacks with bright, new school supplies. It was a joyous event, full of fun and laughter and the occasional reprimand for rowdy behavior (you know who you are). In the end, 160 backpacks filled with grade appropriate school supplies lined the church hallway, eagerly awaiting a student to select them and take them home.

We asked for help carrying all the bulk items and backpacks to Twain, and Gordon and Ben Borgstahl jumped in and had the task practically completed before we even arrived. And we asked for help at the distribution, and had a willing crew of Ev, Eadie, Ann Z. and Julianne assist the children as they checked in and selected their bags.

We constantly asked for help. You responded with unmatched enthusiasm, with a generosity of resources and energy that has me at a loss of words. Together we “did good work.” We did the work of Christ. It was an honor to walk His walk with you.
Below are pictures and video of the day when the Faith folks gathered together to pack the backpacks.  It was a fun experience and hopefully that shows through.  Enjoy!


























video
video

Friday, September 2, 2011

September Minister's Musings from Pastor Bob Loffer

Friends,

School is in session! The school term for 2011-2012 began, in most places in Iowa, in August. Another reminder that the days of summer are limited and fall is just around the corner.

The beginning of the school term is also a reminder of the many times in life we have a chance to start over. Students are facing a new class, often a new teacher, new academic challenges, and a new chance to change the way we behave and respond. A new beginning.

Life has a way of offering many chances to start over. Think New Years! We make “New Year’s Resolutions.” We vow to (fill in the blank here) either stop doing something or start doing something. A new year offers a chance to change the way we behave and respond.

A change in personal relationships (marriage, divorce, a birth, a death, a breakup) is another chance to change the way we behave and respond. A change in professions, locations, job responsibilities, volunteer opportunities are yet other changes in relationships that offer a chance to change the way we behave and respond.

Church folks have the above-mentioned chances plus a church year and calendar that offer other chances as well. The start of each school year is, in many churches, the start of the church program year as well. Plans and programs that have been dormant during the summer come back to life along with new programs, classes, and plans. A new church program year; another chance to change the way we behave and respond.

Advent (which begins on the Sunday closest to November 29) is the beginning of the Church Year. Advent is a time to focus on the coming of God into our world. One more chance to change the way we behave and respond.

Lent (which begins with Ash Wednesday) is a time the church challenges each of us to reflect on God in our world and the difference God’s presence has made in our lives. Again, a way for us to move toward, a chance to change the way we behave and respond.

Sunrise, sunset, beginnings and endings. Each and all are chances to change the way we behave and respond. God offers us many times to change the way we behave and respond. God wants us to know we can start all over again. God wants us to know we do not have to settle for the way things are or have been. God offers each and all a new beginning. Here is to new beginnings! Thanks be to God!

Peace and Good Cheer,

Bob

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Christmas In July -- Thank You!!!

Thank you for your response to our "Christmas in July" drive for Iowa City’s Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP)! "Undie Sunday" resulted in lots of underwear and socks being strewn under our small Christmas trees in front of the altar. And our Baby Wipes drive has exceeded expectations. We easily brought in 2011 baby wipes in 2011, then – at this writing – we are closing in on our second, higher goal – the Baby Bottom Wash goal of 6,000 baby wipes.

We will take the gathered items to DVIP where we are certain the DVIP-ers will once again consider Faith Church "awesome" for our successful efforts in this summer’s drive.

Thank you again.
Social Ministries Committee

Saturday, July 30, 2011

August Message from Pastor Bob Loffer

When I was in elementary school in Nebraska, August always meant vacation time in the mountains of Colorado. My dad had a month vacation and mother did not work away from home. The first few days of August meant we were headed toward Colorado for at least a two week and often a three week stay. It was a time I always looked forward to with great anticipation.

Vacation time with my family meant camping in a tent, a station wagon, friends and lots of new experiences. We explored areas of the Rocky Mountains then that are now famous for their vistas and views. Then (late ‘50's early ‘60's) hardly anyone had ever heard of them. They were isolated and pristine. There were no campgrounds, no flush toilets, and no electricity. We enjoyed each other’s company, took in the natural surroundings and celebrated time together and time with God.

No thoughts of school starting in the middle or end of August. School did not start until the day after Labor Day in September. August was our time to reconnect with family, friends, and God. My, how times have changed!

School starts in Iowa City on August 18, 2011. Summer vacation ends for students, teachers, and families in just a few days. Preparations are already in the works for the start of school. School supplies are on “sale” in major stores. Back-to-school clothes are being purchased and soon the sights and sounds of young people will again fill the halls of school buildings. Where did the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer go?

Times are different in the early part of the twenty-first century than they were in the mid-twentieth-century. We live in a vastly different world with vastly different ways of living and life. Yet, I think there is still time for some of the same things to occur.

There can still be a time for families, friends, and God to reconnect. There is still time for some leisure before the routine begins again in life. There is even time in the midst of the routine for some time to “get away” and reconnect with the important things in living. There may not be large blocks of time like I enjoyed years ago, but we can make a few hours or a day or two available to us if we are willing to commit to making and using the time to do so. Look at your schedules, what can you bend a little or undo so that you can have some time for reflection, relaxation, and reconnecting to the things that matter most, family, friends, and God?

Go ahead, give it a try! You may find the routine in life goes better when a little time is freed up for life outside that routine. Have a good August.

Peace and Good Cheer,

Bob

Conversational Conversation Tomorrow at Faith UCC -- 07/31/11 at 10:30 AM

Please mark Sunday, July 31, 2011 on your calendar!!! The Church Council is inviting all members and friends of Faith United Church of Christ to gather following morning worship at 9:30 a.m. that morning to a second congregational conversation.

This conversation will be a follow-up to the conversation held in April. This time we will be asked what issues identified in the April conversation are still of concern, what issues are no longer of concern and what things have changed since last we gathered. Additionally, there will be a time to share new/different concerns that need to be addressed and a time for making some plans to move into the near future.

Your input into the process is very important. If you cannot be present, please take some time to share your views with Council Members or Rev. Bob.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Christmas In July at Faith United Church of Christ

Friends:

We have not yet reached the half-way point in our Christmas in July celebration and we have met one of our goals. We wanted to collect 2011 baby wipes for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program for this year. We have already collected more than 3000!!!! Thank you all---but keep them coming. Let's see if you can't reach a new goal of a "Godly Gold" Baby Bottom wash (please see the attached pictures).

I have attached several pictures of our collected items. This Sunday, July 17, is "Undie" Sunday in which we are seeking new packages of underwear of all sizes. The most pronounced need is for larger women's sizes and large teenage boys, yet socks and underwear of all sizes as well as diapers and pull-ups are needed.

Join us this Sunday, and TWO more Sundays in July to celebrate "Christmas In July" for the benefit of DVIP. See you in church!!!

Peace and Good Cheer,

Bob



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Come Share an Ice Cream Sundae this Sunday!

Following the worship service the Social Ministries Committee will serve ice cream sundaes.  We will be making homemade ice cream! Yum! A variety of toppings will be available.  A free will donation will go to support our Mission Child.

Please plan to join us!  All are welcome.  Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 DeForest Avenue in Iowa City.  Sunday Worship begins at 9:30 AM and generally lasts one hour.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Challenge: Bring a Cup // Save a Buck

Faith’s Church Council would like to challenge all of Faith’s members and friends to Bring a Cup and Save a Buck.

If everyone (kids and adults alike) would bring a reusable cup or glass with their name on it or use the cups in the kitchen cupboard by our phone we could save hundreds of dollars in cups in a short amount of time. Just think about how many cups we could save if we used our own each Sunday morning, during meetings and at potlucks!!!!

The challenge goes further. We also challenge you to bring your own place settings (plate, cloth napkin and silverware) when we have potlucks and other get-together events.

As we phase out our paper/plastic kitchenware purchases, let’s see how much waste we can phase out from our trash. And speaking of trash, think of how many times you’ve had to haul home garbage – that will be less, also.

One last request – Please wash, dry and put away your cups, glasses, silverware, etc., since we don’t have maid service!

Thanks for participating!!!!!!!

June Message from Pastor Bob Loffer

Dear Friends:

Spring is certainly in full-bloom. Trees, grass, flowers, and garden vegetables are showing off their many and varied forms. What a treat to take a walk through a park, or a drive through the country this time of year and see the beauty of spring as it grows toward summer. If you haven’t done so yet, do so soon. Don’t miss the beauty of late spring in the world.

As the weather warms, plants and animals change their ways. Life in spring and summer is different from life in fall and winter. New growth takes more energy and more resources. Raising new babies born in late winter takes more food, water, and exercise. This time of year, all things are new and excited about the future. Unaware of what lies ahead, nature moves on, pressing toward being the very best they have been called to be in their time and place.

We humans could learn a great deal from the natural world that surrounds us. Instead of fussing about it being too hot too early or not warm enough soon enough or too dry or too wet or too weedy or too whatever (fill in your own blank), what would happen if we simply decided to do the best with what we had?

The plants of spring may struggle to break through the ground to bloom, but as they do break through, they bloom as best they can. The newborn animals and their nurturing parents may not have an easy way to live, but they make the very best of what they have in order to reproduce and be the best they can be where they find themselves.

Life does not always make it easy for us to bloom and grow. Hard things happen in life. We know that is true. What we must also know is that God wants the best for us. God has never promised humanity easy living. What God has promised is that God will be with us, in all our circumstances, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, happy and sad. God simply expects, I think, that we make the very best of what we have, use it for the benefit of others in our world, share the good news that we are loved unconditionally, and that whatever life brings us, we will never have to face it alone.

Peace and Good Cheer,

Rev. Bob

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fiesta on Saturday, May 7th!

Faith UCC's Spring Fiesta fundraiser dinner is Saturday, May 7th, from 5:30 to 7 pm!

Come celebrate the renewal of spring with your Faith friends while enjoying a yummy assortment of Mexican food favorites, including tacos and burritos, salsas and chips, and Mary Lou’s Mexican Wedding Cake cookies.

All are welcome to attend!  Proceeds from our good will donations will benefit the Common Fund of Iowa City.  So plan on dinner at Faith where we’ll be serving up fun and fellowship with a spicy flare.

Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 DeForest Avenue in Iowa City.

Barb Ruth Annual Clean Up -- Saturday, May 7


Barb Ruth Annual Cleanup
Saturday, May 7th
9 am - 12 Noon

Bring rakes, gloves and cleaning supplies.
We also need some city wide paper trash bags for leaves.

Clean-Up is quick and easy and fun when shared by all!

May Message from Pastor Bob Loffer

Dear Friends:

Spring, as always, has arrived! The newness of our world in the spring of the year is, and always has been, a real wonder to me. The amazing transformation, in a relatively short period of time, from the dreariness of winter to the liveliness of spring is absolutely astounding! What a gift! Thanks be to God!

People can be transformed as well. That transformation can be equally amazing and astounding. God has a hand in both transformations, nature and people. However, people can hinder as well as help their own transformation. Nature, on the other hand, simply complies to the laws of creation.

Personal transformation requires some work on the person’s part. There does come a time when one must let go of what has happened in the past and move forward into the present and future. Learning from the past is one thing, remaining in the muck and mire of the past is not learning but wallowing. Wallowing only leads to the festering of old wounds without allowing light and warmth to touch the hurt and begin the healing.

I know there remains a great deal of anger and hurt among many at Faith United Church of Christ. The pain is real. So is the anger. The time has come for that pain and anger to be exposed, identified, and “aired-out.” I want to hear your stories. I want to help you express your disappointment, your hurt, your anger. I cannot do that unless you will allow me to do so.

Let’s talk! I mean that, sincerely! Come by the office. Call me on the phone. Invite me to your home.

If you have already done so—thank you! Perhaps, you still have more to share or just need a listening ear.

I cannot turn back the clock. I will not be able to undo what has been done. I can listen. I can help you look at what has happened and with God’s help and your willingness to move beyond your hurt, anger, and disappointment begin to heal.

Personal transformation will bring about the transformation of the Church. Once we can move beyond our personal pasts we can move into a present and future that will allow us to focus on the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in the church we have all come to love.

The key to moving on lies in forgiveness. We must apologize to those whom we have hurt, even if the hurt was unintentional. We must forgive those who hurt us and seek to reconcile with them. Only in offering and accepting forgiveness can we move into a future filled with hope, promise and peace.

Peace and Good Cheer,

Rev. Bob

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday Worship Service tonight at Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City

Holy Week begins at Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City.  Rev. Bob Loffer will lead our Maundy Thursday Worship Services tonight, Thursday April 21, beginning at 7:00 PM.  This will be a service of readings, liturgy, hymns, and communion.

All are welcome and invited to join in tonight's worship service: friends, members, visitors, and seekers.  Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 DeForest Avenue in Iowa City, Iowa.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Members to be Welcomed to Faith UCC!

This is a time of newness and renewal. Faith United Church of Christ will celebrate the reception of three people into membership of the church on Palm Sunday, April 17!

Jim Haack, JoAnn Haack, and Terri Logan will join Faith United Church of Christ by profession of faith during the Sunday Morning worship service. A time of refreshment and fellowship will follow the morning worship. Come; celebrate with us as we move forward with the mission and ministry of God in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Queer and Gray

The following post was cross-posted from Faith UCC's Member Jon Trouten's blog:

It is often difficult for young gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities to navigate the heterosexual world. Ever wonder how much more difficult that could be for elderly members of the queer community? Many of them grew up in a culture where their identities were best to kept secret. They could be jailed, institutionalized, fired, disowned, etc... if they revealed their identities. Now these seniors are getting older and may require care in a nursing home or residential community. Many of these settings seem to be unaware of the sexual identities of their queer residents and uncomfortable with those residents who are out of the closet...

The Johnson County Living Community (JCLC) Visibility Action Team is presenting a free movie, Gen Silent, on this subject this Sunday, April 17th, at 7:00 PM at the Bijou Cinema in the University of Iowa's Iowa Memorial Union.

The director of the film, Stu Maddux, will also be present to answer questions from audience members after the film.

(NOTE: The preceeding article was written by Faith UCC friend Mark Holbrook, who is a member of the JCLC Visibility Action Team and one of the sponsors of this important event. You can read more about the showing of Gen Silent at this webpage and, of course, at Mr. Maddux's own blog.)