Friday, December 15, 2017

PLM Families together - January Newsletter

Families Together Honored
GlaxoSmithKline recognized Families Together along with nine other organizations with the Impact award for building a healthier community. We are so honored to have our mission of moving families from homelessness to home recognized. We are extremely honored for the accolades, but none of this would have been possible if it were not for all of our allies who have joined us in facing the fact that more and more the face of homelessness is that of a child. Thank you to all the board members, donors, churches, corporations, and volunteers for your contributions. This award is a reflection of everything you do and belongs to you as much as it does to us.
Holiday Smiles - thank you!
Thank you so much to the individuals and churches that provided a special “Holiday Smiles” Christmas for families in our program. This year Holiday Smiles has reached 235 people with 147 of them being children! We are ecstatic with the turn out as our partnership makes holiday dreams a reality.  Thank you again to all who contributed gifts for families this holiday season.  We are overwhelmed with your generosity during the holidays.
Continuing Our Mission
We are extremely happy to report that as of this writing our fall fundraising campaign is going very well and we look forward to reporting the final results next month. Thanks to all who have given so generously to improve the lives of children and families experiencing homelessness in our community. If you have not yet donated, we need and welcome your help. You can make an immediate impact by donating online at, or by mailing your donation to Families Together, P.O. Box 14395, Raleigh, NC 27620.  Questions? Email or 919-212-1123 ext. 231. We are sincerely grateful for any support you can provide at this critical time.
Program Needs
With the start of the New Year, we need help restocking our supplies to help families move from homelessness to independence. There is a need for toiletries, such as soap, shampoo, deodorant as well as laundry baskets. Also, our after school program pantry is running low. Donations of non-perishable snacks and juices for the children would be greatly appreciated. Contact Meghan Olesen, Community Engagement Coordinator at (919) 307-1892, or by e-mail,

Share and help us get the word out 
Connect with us on Instagram (Families2ogether). You’ll also find regular updates on our Facebook page (, and on Twitter (@families2gether).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pastor's Letter

Dear Friends,
Please join me in offering Advent gratitude for the many gifts and the joyful, honest, welcoming presence that our youth and children bring to our community. They led us in worship last Sunday with creative Spirits in music, song, dance, and flair! May their witness invite us to also participate in telling the sacred story of hope, peace, joy and lover his Advent season!!

To our CUCC Youth and Children:
Thank you for sharing yourselves and your gifts with us at CUCC! What a great light you are to all of God's people when you take risks to share, to speak your truth, to let your love and fear fly free in the face of all that might seek to limit or box you in. Thank you for sharing your creativity, your voices, and for inviting your church family to walk the journey with you. I am so blessed to be your pastor, and we are blessed to be Church with you.

I hold onto the truth that your witness is for all of us -- that "the world is about to turn". I know that the landscape in which we are living these days seems to tell a different story sometimes, but what is so amazing about the Christian narrative of which we are all part, is that God's love does not waver or falter as the political needle rises and falls. No! God's love is more like your favorite movie...the one you know by heart, the one that always delivers. Whether funny, frightening, heartbreaking or an epic tale -- it never changes; from beginning to end you can expect the same story...tried and true, an unwavering sure return. 

The world is about to turn! The reason I know that to be true? With each new day as sure as the sun rises and sets, YOU, and your generation, are impacting our world for good, with a hope and conviction that "gives light to ALL in the house." May it be so!

Thank you for sharing your Advent HOPE with your church family! Spirit is leading the way!

With Love,

Pastor Jenny  

Draft CUCC Constitution & ByLaws available for your review

Dear Community UCC Member,

Thanks so much for taking time to read this message. As mentioned at the last congregational meeting, since August, various combinations of us, including Ministry chairs and volunteers from the congregation, have been reviewing and recommending updates to Community UCC’s Constitution & Bylaws. They haven’t had an overhaul in a while, so the proposed changes include decluttering, text clarifications, and edits to reflect current CUCC practices that have changed since the last major review.

The link below will open a dropbox folder from which (if you like) you can download the proposed revisions, with explanatory comments in the margins. The plan is to bring these revisions, your feedback, and any final edits, to Council and then the congregation in January.

I’ll be grateful to receive feedback or questions about these drafts by Wednesday, December 20, at – that will give me time to make final edits before January.

The drafts are formatted in Word to make it easier to suggest specific edits if you’re so inclined, but general comments are welcome too. If it is easier to talk over thoughts and questions rather than writing them in an email, please feel free to call my cell phone, 919-802-7592.

Folder with Constitution and ByLaws drafts

With warm regards,
Grady McCallie
Committee on Constitution and ByLaws Review, Phase II


Sunday  12/17      
  9:00am  Nursery for newborns - 3-year-olds
  9:00am  Taizé Worship – Sanctuary
  9:30am  Choir Practice - Sanctuary
  9:30am  Adult Bible Study - Bradow Room
     9:30am Youth Confirmation Class - Youth Room
10:30am Worship Service - Sanctuary - Chancel Choir Cantata
10:45am Children’s Sunday School - Sunday School Rooms
10:45am Youth Sunday School - Youth Room
11:45am Fellowship - Vaughan Fellowship Hall
12:30pm Caroling at Morningside Assisted Living
  3:00pm Covenant Community - Bradow Room
  5:00pm Wright Center Meal Provided by CUCC Youth
Monday 12/18 
12:15pm Monday Lunch Group - Hoffmann Room
Tuesday 12/19 
10:30am Office Staff Meeting - Pilgrim House
10:30am Triangle Interfaith Alliance - Hoffmann Room
Wednesday 12/20     
    9:30am Tai Chi – Vaughan Fellowship Hall
    6:30pm Bible Study - Pilgrim House
    7:30pm PFLAG - Vaughan Fellowship Hall

Saturday 12/23  
    9:30am Saturday Morning Book Club – Library
Sunday 12/24 
    9:00am Nursery for newborns - 3-year-olds
    9:00am Taizé Worship – Sanctuary
    9:15am Book Study during Advent - Hoffmann Room
                            Learning to Walk in the Dark
   9:30am No Youth Confirmation Class Today
   9:30am Choir Practice - Sanctuary
 10:30am Worship Service - Sanctuary
 10:45am No Children’s Sunday School Today
 10:45am No Youth Sunday School Today
 11:45am Fellowship - Vaughan Fellowship Hall
    3:00pm Covenant Community - Bradow Room
    5:00pm Christmas Eve Service - Sanctuary 

Lectionary for the Week of December 17, 2017

Lectionary for the Week of December 17, 2017 - Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28
Psalm 126

Christmas Caroling on Sunday, December 17 after church

¨ Following the 10:30am worship service on Dec. 17th, everyone is invited to join the choir in caroling at Morningside Assisted Care Facility across from CUCC. We will begin around 12:30 and sing until about 1:15.  Following that, some of us will carol for Irling Gamble at Independence Village, for IT Littleton and Lea Sage's mother at REX Rehab, and for our church members at Whitaker Glen.  We hope you can join us for any part of this to bring Christmas joy to others through music.

Chancel Choir News

¨ Brother Heinrich's Christmas, A Fable with Music by John Rutter, will be presented by the choir  during the 10:30am worship service on Sunday, Dec. 17th.  Members of the choir will narrate this heart-warming story about a monk in the monastery choir and his donkey.  They will be joined by instrumentalists playing oboe, bassoon, and piano.  Be sure to bring your children to help the choir with the donkey's hee-haws.

Prayer Stick Workshop

A Prayer Stick Workshop for CUCC Adults!
Facilitated by Joan McAllister
January 7, 9:30 a.m. Hoffmann Room

It has been a tradition of CUCC to offer uniquely created prayer sticks to new members and to youth who are confirmed. This gift is often much appreciated as a reminder to each member that they are part of us and that we pray for them. A prayer stick is a piece of bamboo, wrapped with yarn or ribbon, decorated with beads or shells or feathers. As the maker chooses colors and prayerfully creates the stick, she or he is thinking of the recipient. The final product reflects the uniqueness of the new member, and the prayers we have for them. Join Joan McAllister for this creative workshop. We have several people who are planning on joining our congregation, you may choose to create a prayer stick for one of them, or for someone else. If you don’t finish your stick before worship, you will have an opportunity to finish afterward.

Gathering during Advent - 2017

Advent 2017
    Advent 2017

Adult Bible Study

9:30am - Bible Study facilitated by Ellen Beidler and Bill Lamb using John Dominic Crosson's book The First Christmas:  What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus' Birth

"In The First Christmas, two of today's top Jesus scholars, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, join forces to show how history has biased our reading of the nativity story as it appears in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Borg and Crossan help us to see this well-known narrative afresh by answering the question, "What do these stories mean?" in the context of both the first century and the twenty-first century. They successfully show that the Christmas story, read in its original context, is far richer and more challenging than people imagine.Christmas."  

Please email or call Ellen or Bill if you have questions.  Contact Ellen:, Bill: 

Register for CUCC Lenten Retreat: Next Steps Toward Allyship

When: February 23, 6PM - February 24, 6PM
Where: Cedar Cross Retreat Center, Louisburg, NC
What: We are pleased to offer a Lenten overnight retreat to continue our conversations on allyship!

Join fellow CUCC adults for an overnight retreat of reflection and discernment. Next Steps Toward Allyship is a natural outgrowth from the Seven Steps to Becoming a Better Ally forum series, the Racial Justice Study Group, and the many efforts CUCC groups and individuals have been making to better understand and work for social justice. We will focus on prayerfully developing plans for action in solidarity, as individuals and as a congregation.

Who: All are welcome! We will have some brief reflections on allyship for those new to the idea, but this will not be a repeat of the fall series.

How: Registration SOON! Space is limited! Please register ASAP, but by January 1 at the latest! Here is the link to more info and the Registration Form.

Any questions?: Feel free to contact Annaka Sikkink ( or Śānti Matthews (

Advent Study: Leanring to Walk in the Dark

I am excited to be leading a small group during the four weeks of Advent using the book, "Learning to Walk in the Dark" by Barbara Brown Taylor, former Episcopal Priest, author and teacher. It is conventional for us to advertise this season of anticipation with headliners and candles that speak of hope, joy, peace and love, but rarely do we fully embrace the darkness which is actually anecdotal for receiving the fullness of what this season brings. Reminiscent of the Buddhist tradition, Taylor, who invites an exploration of our relationship to the darkness, naming the harmful dichotomy the Christian Tradition has set-up between light and dark, says, 
"If I have any expertise, it is in the realm of spiritual darkness: fear of the unknown, familiarity with divine absence, mistrust of conventional wisdom, suspicion of religious comforters, keen awareness of the limits of all language about God and at the same time shame over my inability to speak of God without a thousand qualifiers, doubt about the health of my soul, and barely suppressed contempt for this who have no such qualms. If even one of these rings a bell, it is possible that you too could benefit from learning to walk in the dark."
All are welcome to join us at Community UCC - or online - Sundays at 9:15am: Dec. 3 - 24th.  Whether or not you are able to read the chapters ahead of time, the discussion questions are very accessible to all who wish to participate in this experience. ~ Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas

Attached is the HarperOne discussion guide that we will follow through the class. 
Reading guide for discussions: 
Sunday, Dec. 3 - Introduction and chapters 1-2
Sunday, Dec. 10 - chapters 3-5
Sunday, Dec. 17 - chapters 6-7
Sunday, Dec. 24 - chapters 8-9, and epilogue 

Online participants: Please download discussion guide and read chapters accordingly. Each Sunday 
morning prior to class, questions will be sent to group listserv via email. Please email Jenny Shultz-Thomas at to be included in listserv.

Children's Sunday School

Childrens Sunday School
Please see our special dates below!

12/17  Choir presents BROTHER HEINRICH"S CHRISTMAS by John Rutter - Children will enjoy this special telling of the Christmas story and then be dismissed to Sunday School classes.

12/24   Christmas Break (no Sunday School)

12/31   Christmas Break (no Sunday School)

Youth News

Saturday, December 16:
International Mission Trip Brunch for all participants, 11:00am -1:00pm in the Fellowship Hall.

Sunday, December 17:
Confirmation Class meets; then youth cook Wright Center Meal upstairs in the Pilgrim House, until 1:00pm. Youth serve Wright Center meal at 6:00pm.

Sunday, December 24:
Come for worship at 10:30AM and/or Family Friendly 5:00pm Christmas Eve Worship.

Vigil to End Gun Violence

Join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
for a vigil at:

Community United Church of Christ at 814 Dixie Trail in Raleigh
 December 14th at 7pm.

At hundreds of locations nationwide, 
we will give voice to all victims
and survivors of gun violence and together help #EndGunViolence in America.

Please contact us at 919-889-9904 or
with any questions.

Decorating for Christmas - You're invited to help!

Sacraments & Chancel will be decorating the church for Christmas on Saturday, December 16, 9-11AM. They will be staging from the Children's Sunday School room and the kitchen. Contact Jeanne Ledbetter if you would like to help decorate. Many hands make less work! Plus, it's fun to decorate.

Wright Center Meal

Thanks to Tim Holton, Annaka Sikkink and Lena Gallitano for serving the Wright Center Meal on Nov 19. Thanks also to Tim, Annaka, Lena, Mike Schafale, Tena Hand and Cynthia Ball for preparing a Thanksgiving feast for the 36 women on November 19.

If you would like to help prepare food or serve at the Center, please contact Laura Upchurch at 919-616-8285 or email at

Monday, December 11, 2017

Adult and student volunteers needed at Teen Court

At the social justice meeting on December 3rd we heard about an important volunteer opportunity with the Capital Area Teen Court. John and I went to the court house Tuesday evening to observe a court room with an adult judge but all other participants, lawyers, bailiffs, jurors, and defendants are young people.The sanctions against the first offenders who admit guilt for the offense include community service, serving jury duty and attend a educational group.

Adult volunteers are needed to be judges, jury monitor or exit interviewer. Students can be a bailiff,  on the jury, or an attorney. The next court date is January 16,

Please contact Adrienne Little for more information.  (You can find her contact information in Breeze, our online directory.)

Friday, December 8, 2017

CUCC Annual Adult Christmas Party - Saturday, Dec. 9

Get Ready to Jingle the Bells and Deck the Halls!
Welcoming and Fellowship would like to cordially invite you to join us for the CUCC
Annual Adult Christmas Party
This year we will enjoy a potluck of heavy hors d’oeuvres while being festively entertained by some of CUCC’s finest! It’s always one of the highlights of the year so please mark your calendar and plan to join us! See details below.

Date:   Saturday, December 9th
Time:  ​6:30pm – 8:30pm (Childcare will be provided)
Bring: An hors d'oeuvre to share; drinks will be provided

 Anne Moorman-Smith & Monty Smith will provide Special music
 & lead Christmas Carols
 Robert Parrish will have his new guitar in hand
 Marty Lamb will read a Christmas story 

We are collecting gloves, scarves and hats for Loaves & Fishes. 
A donation box will be provided for your gifts.

From the Pastor

Dear Community Friends, 

I know I am not the only one staring at a house filled with the Spirit of the season!
And when I say that, I am hopeful that Spirit appreciates being adorned with reindeer antlers, half-eaten candy canes, last year's Christmas cards where cousins' faces are scribbled out, and a play manger scene in which one of the magi lost his hand to the dog's appetite. Welcome to Advent!

As every good Pastor Mommy does, I have included rituals for my family to participate in during the Advent season. The goal, of course, being to keep our focus on waiting not only for the lego sets, barbie dolls and fire-breathing dragons to arrive, but celebrating in the hope and love of God that we already share. 

Family Night Rituals #1: Watching for the Light 
Advent Calendar: Sage loves opening the tiny boxes of the Advent calendar each night, so I bought a calendar that reveals 1 piece of a manger scene each night to be completed on Christmas Eve. Big mistake. I don't want Mary! Where is the chocolate, mommy?! #mommyfail1.  

Advent Wreath: I brought the kit from church and let the kids put the wreath together. #mommywin!

There were tears about who would blow the candle out after the prayer, and then after the pre-written Advent liturgy, Quinn screamed out "people who are sick, and in the hurricane," since our liturgy did not include them. #mommyfail2. 

Peace Dove: This is the evangelical version of Elf on the Shelf. Just no. Just no, no, no. Each night the dove leaves a message on a small card that shares a possible activity that the family can do together to respond to those in need. Great idea? Had I realized that each activity itself is a full-time job, like building a mailbox together from the wood you cut down from the barn you have in your backyard...I would have gone with the Elf! #mommybigfail3.  

Mostly, though, as I think about these lovely fun failures, and the opportunity they provide for my children and my family to experience these dark days of waiting with intention and thoughtfulness, I am filled with joy. Finding humor in a toddler's meltdown is much like giving ourselves the grace we need on life's journey. May you discover grace in a new way this Advent season; and may it be as permeable for you as the stars scattered across the darkened sky which give light to all in the house. Prepare for the Light.

Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas