October 2017 Newsletter


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October 2017 Newsletter

Notes From West Mountain                                                      The Reverend Mark E. Diters 

Blessings one and all! At the narrative’s climax in the Book of Esther the Jewish people are at a critical crossroad. Their survival is seriously threatened. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and trusted advisor speaks to her saying this, “For if you keep silence at such a time as this…you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.

 “Just such a time as this…” This phrase calls one to pause and take stock of the moment, to be completely aware of the situation you are in. While Esther’s story carries with it the added weight of her own narrative, all of us, humanity at large, find similar moments throughout the course of our lives. When this occurs, it is a particular collision of time, circumstance and importance that focuses and consumes one’s sense of self and meaning. This is a moment when one’s priorities become crystal clear and undeniable. In Esther’s case, her next actions dictated the fate of an entire population. Most frequently when we find ourselves in such a place and “time as this…” it is personal and intimate. Most frequently it is occupational, relational or health driven.

When “such a time as this” occurs and we arrive at the other side of it all, looking back, we become aware of how blessed and graced we have been. We examine our world with eyes and ears that are grateful for seeing and hearing.

Most of us are aware that early last month I experienced a seizure or fainting episode which left me unconscious for half a minute or so, frightened my immediate family no end, led to an ambulance ride to the ER, and a myriad of tests. But what I would have folks know is that this experience no doubt became for me, “a time such as this”. I thank my family for their love and care, and all of you who have been extending your assistance and concern. I am most grateful. I pray that we all be aware of our moment. And I pray that we all remember the Gospel call to live and love and be present one to each other with patience, care, and unity. In Christ…

Peace,

Mark

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OCTOBER 1st  – FULL CHURCH COMMUNION

Eating together, breaking bread, sharing a meal…is truly a way to grow in fellowship and friendship. Additionally, sharing communion is a way to grow in faith as well! Sunday, October 1st is World Communion Sunday. Recognizing that through this service we seek to unite worldwide, the least we can do is all share in Communion one with another. We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, young and old with a light morning meal in the sanctuary. The sermon will be a shared reflection/discussion by one and all! Children will take part in all portions of the service.

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OCTOBER 8th – BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS

Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with the often-quoted phrase, “Pray ceaselessly, when necessary use words.”  He is also responsible for opening the eyes of all people recognizing that those other than human inhabitants of this planet are blessed by God as much as we are.  Sunday, October 8th will be our annual Blessing of the Animals Worship Service in the sanctuary. On this day each fall, our sanctuary has been gifted with many furry and finned brothers and sisters from the animal kingdom. We are an open church! Any and all animals are welcome. Where ever they are on life’s journey they are welcome here. (As long as they fit in the sanctuary we will bless them with words, prayer and music.) Invite friends to bring their pets to worship. Help us to celebrate the variety of life and God’s gifts to us all, living here in West Hartford!

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OCTOBER 10th  AT 6:30 PM – PASTORAL CARE IN TIMES OF STRESS 

Could there be a better time for this? On Tuesday, October 10th Flagg Road UCC will host an evening program sponsored by the Hartford Association of the United Church of Christ on Pastoral Care in Times of Trauma and Stress.  The Rev. Dr. Frederick (Jerry) Streets will be the guest speaker.  Light refreshments will be served at 6:30 pm with the presentation starting at 7 pm.

Dr. Streets provides sensitive insights and observations regarding the impact of stress and trauma on individuals and communities. His focus is the intersection and interaction between medical, social, and theological factors for those affected as well as those caring for them.

The Reverend Dr. Frederick “Jerry” Streets is the former Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor in Pastoral Counseling at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, New York. He served as Chaplain of Yale University and Senior Pastor of the Church of Christ in Yale from 1992-2007. He was the Senior Pastor of the Mount Aery Baptist Church, Bridgeport from 1975-1992.  His research, publications, teaching and lecture interests are in pastoral theology, institutional leadership and development, and religion and social welfare.  He holds the Master of Divinity from Yale University and masters and doctoral degrees from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University.

Rev. Streets was a 2007-2008 Senior Fulbright Scholar and in 2010 and 2012 a Senior Fulbright Specialist at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He conducted research in South Africa examining the intersection of modern medicine, social work practice and spiritual care of families and children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

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BOARD OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE OCTOBER SECOND MILE OFFERING

A Coffee House Ministry Proudly Serving U.S. Troops since 2006

United Church of Christ military chaplains have found an old way to invite U.S. soldiers into a safe and informal place where they can receive spiritual care and good coffee. Congregations and individuals can support the Coffee House Ministry and simultaneously participate in the UCC Fair Trade Project by sending Equal Exchange Coffee to military chaplains in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

Coffee may be an unlikely ally of the Gospel yet in the hands of a chaplain it can enable meaningful ministry. By offering a place to come, relax, and talk with chaplains, the “Coffee House and Café Ministries” provide our military personnel with a place where they can be emotionally and spiritually renewed and have a moment of peace as well as a cup of gourmet coffee. It opens doors to communication and allows troops to begin to heal their concerns and relieve their burdens related to the home front or their deployment. In 2015, thanks to many generous donations, 151 Chaplains were able to participate.

At this time, our troops continue to be deployed in many countries where they encounter very difficult, life–threatening situations. Their daily experiences extract an extreme physical, emotional and psychological toll. Our chaplains are the first line of defense against the emotional and psychological issues faced by our troops.

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SHRIMP BOIL IN HONOR OF BACK BAY MISSIONS

Hurricanes have been so central to our news this past month. Irma, Jose, Maria, the list goes on. Back Bay Mission in Biloxi Mississippi traditionally promoted their work through offering Shrimp Boils for congregations. Since Hurricane Katrina, (twelve years ago, with 174 mph winds), they have been more focused upon restoring their ministry and mission in Biloxi. A representative was here with us three years ago. Since that year we have continued the fest, recalling and celebrating their work.

On Sunday, September 24th the Gulf Coast heat and humidity paid us a visit to add some authenticity to our festivities. Most years we put the tents up with the thought of rain. This year, diners huddled in the areas of shadow seeking some shelter from the sun. Wonderful food and fellowship! Many thanks to all who assisted, Big Jon and Sarah Moreland, Karen Hollant, and the Board of Christian Service. The Board will be sending a donation to Back Bay Missions to aid their essential work in Biloxi where they are still rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina’s impact. Thanks to all who attended!

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DONATE TO UCC DISASTER RELIEF

In response to the many recent natural disasters, The UCC is encouraging all members to consider contributing to UCC Disaster Ministries. UCC Disaster Ministries is well positioned to respond in most parts of the world through our longstanding partnerships and connections. Donations to One Great Hour of Sharing, Emergency USA Fund and the International Disaster Relief Fund enable UCC Disaster Ministries to support emergency relief efforts, long-term rehabilitation, advocacy and sustainability efforts. 100% of funds designated for disaster relief to the United Church of Christ are used for disaster relief and rehabilitation programing. Please visit www.ucc.org/disaster to learn more.

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CHRISTMAS CARDS FOR OUR VETERANS 

The Board of Christian Service will be sending Christmas cards to our veterans this holiday season. The board would like to invite all members to dedicate a few minutes after church meetings and Sunday worship to write a personalized message in one of the Christmas cards from the supply in the lounge. If you would like to donate any additional cards to the cause, there is a collection box in the link.

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YOUTH GROUP NEWS

The Youth Group enjoyed a day of service on September 21st at the House of Bread on Chestnut Street in Hartford. We organized ingredients, sorted outdated cans, and served a healthy and hearty beef stew, salad, and dessert to 170 clients facing food insecurity. These youths are hard workers!

On Saturday, September 30th, the Youth Group is planning their annual apple-picking and cake baking.  The apple cakes will be available for purchase at church on Sunday, October 1st.  Please contact Linda Wright for details.

Stay tuned for October’s adventure! Date TBD!

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FLAGG ROAD UCC KNITTING GROUP

The Flagg Road Knitting Group will meet on October  10th  and 24th from 1:30 to 3:00 pm at Cottage M in Hartmeadow Village.

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COFFEE HOUR HOSTS AND PULPIT FLOWER CONTRIBUTERS NEEDED

Dates are available if you are willing to host coffee hour or contribute flowers for Sunday morning worship. Please sign up in the lounge.

 

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