Paying forward with the gift of Thanksgiving
written by Belinda Sledge
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
Burlington, NC — On the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving, as staff were preparing to close the Southern Conference office for the holiday, the doorbell rang. Our first thought was “who would be coming by?” Little did we know it would be someone who came to answer our cry for the gift of Thanksgiving. Reverend Phil Myers, pastor of First Reformed UCC in Burlington, NC, stepped in the door and said, “We received your letter and understand you could use a little help.” There he stood with a check for $1000 in addition to monies that the church had planned to send by the end of the year. Reverend Weathers, Eastern North Carolina Minister of Church Affairs, as he stood in awe said with a smile, “Ask and it shall be given.” It was then we discovered the true meaning of “Ye, have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).
At the end of October, each church received a letter asking for a contribution in the amount of $1000 or more in addition to the regular amount that was already budgeted to be sent to the Southern Conference by December 31st (the close of the fiscal year) for Covenant Support (Our Churches Wider Mission). We asked that congregations send the additional amount by December 11th. To date we have received over $4000 in response to our “ask” Our goal is $70,000 in additional support before year end.
We know that just like the Southern Conference, so many of our churches may have had challenges which include financial concerns. While the SOC goal may seem far-fetched in such a short time, imagine — just as Jesus prayed for us “that we may all be one” (John 17:20-21) — what we could do in covenant together. It would truly bring out the meaning of the scripture “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
We have also sent letters to our “Friends of the Southern Conference” asking them to share in the gift of giving. Enclosed in the letter that will be received is a card that can be shared with another friend.
Churches additional contributions can be made payable to the Southern Conference and mailed to the SOC office at 252-B West Fifth Street, Burlington, NC 27215. Individual contributions can be either mailed to the same address or done via the Conference website at soc-ucc.org under the donate tab. Churches, when mailing a check should identify on the memo line that the gift represents an “additional covenant contribution.” Individuals, when mailing a check, are asked to note on the memo line “Friends of the Southern Conference.”
In this season of giving, the Southern Conference is asking each congregation and all Friends of the Conference to journey together to “Build a Stronger Southern Conference by Working Together in Faith, Trust, and Love”. May God find favor on you and your family during this advent season.
Hometown Mission Trip Reflection
Submitted on July 17, 2017 by Beverly S. Pugh, Project Coordinator
For many years, members of First Reformed United Church of Christ in Burlington have traveled to places like East St. Louis, Washington, DC, the mountains of North Carolina, and even out of the country to share God’s love with others through acts of service. This summer, we decided to stay HOME! So who should we serve? With our existing connections with the Meals on Wheels program, we decided to work with the Meals on Wheels staff to survey their clients to determine what specific indoor and outdoor tasks we could complete.
Following a kickoff meal on Friday, June 16, volunteers worked Saturday, June 18, and then June 19 – 22 to complete such tasks as mowing and trimming yards, cutting shrubbery, cleaning out flower beds, cleaning floors, dusting furniture, and cleaning cabinets and appliances. A final project was completed on the morning of July 4.
Volunteers served a total of 43 Meals on Wheels Clients – completing 30 outdoor and 22 indoor assignments.
Twenty-nine volunteers – 26 from FRUCC and three from Macedonia Lutheran Church – worked in teams with supplies purchased specifically for the mission project.
With feedback from the volunteers and the Meals on Wheels staff, we planto make the Hometown Mission Trip an annual event.
Renewal of Baptism Service
On Sunday, January 10, worship participants were invited to walk forward, dip their hands into a bowl of water, retrieve a sea shell and keep this as a reminder of how God has a “claim” on each of our lives. As individuals walked forward, we played “Down in the River to Pray” by Alison Krauss.
Circle #4 treated the Young Musicians of Alamance to lunch on Saturday, December 19. The students, staff, and volunteers enjoyed spaghetti casserole, salad, and bread. The children decorated their own cupcakes for dessert. After lunch, the Young Musicians included our Circle members in a Christmas sing-along and a violin piece entitled “Tiri Tiri Twinkle.” We all enjoyed this delightful group of children and adults!