Thursday, November 24, 2016

Advent theme for Monday Lunch Group

During Advent, Christmas and Christmastide including the first Monday in January before Epiphany, we will explore ways to use poetry for meditation. On our Monday Lunch days beginning November 28th, seven or eight poems will be handed out for you to use every day during the coming week. They need not to be read in any particular order, you can choose. You may have one that is always meaningful to you, feel free to use it instead.

This time of year, finding the time to use the poems for meditation any given day might be a problem. If you have time, take a brief break and select a poem just to read, reading it aloud is often interesting. Other days, maybe you will have the time to spend with a poem for meditation, journalling, even writing your own poem.

It's all up to you how much or little you do, but making our Advent journeys together is going to be interesting for sure!

Advent begins on Sunday, November 27th so our first MLG will be on the 28th. Since I cannot be there, Geraldine has kindly consented to lead the program for that week. How to use poetry for meditation will be discussed, suggestions for making it happen. She will also hand out the first set of poems for the following week. (If you cannot be there and let me know, I can email them to you.)

We will begin the first Monday with things related to The Annunciation and when Mary goes to be with Elizabeth. Attached are two related sets of information to download with some background that I found interesting. One is about the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel which is in the village where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived and where John the Baptist was born. The other is about The Magnificat, or Mary's Song, that she sang when she and Elizabeth met.

Ann Retzer

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Join us during Advent at CUCC

Advent is the four Sunday period before Christmas - the day we celebrate the coming of God to live among us through the birth of Jesus.  During Advent we wait expectantly - for the birth of the Christ child and the coming of Christ again.

One traditional part of Advent is the giving of gifts, a way of saying thank you to God for the gift of Jesus Christ.  Gift-giving opportunities are noted with a star *.

You are welcome to attend any of these Advent events - just show up!

2015 "Fear not!" Christmas tree
1st week of Advent

Sunday, November 27
During 10:30 worship Śānti Matthews and Doug Barrick will  share the message: "What is the Christmas story?"  After the Children's Time, the children and youth will leave worship to work together to create ornaments for CUCC's Christmas tree.  After worship, the youth will eat lunch and then go shopping for CUCC's tree.

Live near Wake Forest?  Worship with CUCC's Prism group.  A special Advent focus runs Nov. 27 to Dec. 11, led by Joy Alford and Amy Burki.  10:30AM, 102 S White St, Wake Forest.

Monday, November 28
Using poetry in meditation.  Monday Lunch Group, 12:15PM

Tuesday, November 29
*Women of CUCC (and their women friends) are invited to the home of Marty Lamb for a potluck and sing-a-long from the Rise Up Singing songbooks.  This is a gathering of SIS, an open monthly assembling of women.  SIS has chosen to collect toiletries to donate to the women's shelter.

2015's creative project
Family Advent Event
2nd week of Advent

Sunday, December 4
*Bring a bag of groceries - another way we can pass along God's love.  Here's the list of groceries requested by the Urban Ministries food pantry.

Today's 10:30 worship service features a celebration of communion; we welcome the Rev. Sheila Barrick who will officiate.  Wherever you are on life's journey, you are welcome at the table Jesus prepares for all of us.  Marty Lamb bring the message via theater:  "Who am I in the Christmas story?" After the Children's Time, the children will leave worship to practice for the Christmas pageant.

Live near Wake Forest?  Worship with CUCC's Prism group.  A special Advent focus runs Nov. 27 to Dec. 11, led by Joy Alford and Amy Burki.  10:30AM, 102 S White St, Wake Forest.

*Sunday afternoon at 5PM, children and their families have fun at the Family Advent Workshop.  Pizza is served (free).  Mrs. Susan will help families make dough ornaments.  Please bring a plate of cookies to share.

*CUCC's 2016 angel tree debuts.  Select your angel from the tree and bring the described gift for one of the families CUCC is sponsoring.

Monday, December 5
Using poetry in meditation.  Monday Lunch Group, 12:15PM

Tuesday, December 6
Life & Faith conversation will focus on Advent.  This fluid group of "whoever shows up" is meeting in December at O'Malley's Pub.  Arrive at 6:30 if you want dinner; conversation runs from 7-8/

Saturday, December 10
Join us at 6:30PM for the annual CUCC Adult Christmas Party  It's a chance to get to know your fellow CUCCers in a festive atmosphere.  Hot hors d'oeuvres, scrumptious dessert table, spiral ham, vegetarian and vegan appetizers, and wine will be available.  A special soloist will provide musical entertainment and lead us in caroling.  Please come!  (No fee, but we welcome a small donation to defray the cost of the food and beverage.)

2015 Christmas pageant
3rd week of Advent

Sunday, December 11
The children will lead us in worship by presenting a Christmas pageant:  the story of the birth of the baby Jesus.  Then Julie Robertson will provide the message: "Why do we tell the Christmas story?"  10:30AM, Sanctuary

Live near Wake Forest?  Worship with CUCC's Prism group.  A special Advent focus runs Nov. 27 to Dec. 11, led by Joy Alford and Amy Burki.  10:30AM, 102 S White St, Wake Forest.

Monday, December 12
Using poetry in meditation.  Monday Lunch Group, 12:15PM

Saturday, December 17
If you would like to help decorate the church for Christmas, please join us from 9:00am - 11:00am. It’s fun and very rewarding. Refreshments will be served. For questions, contact Jeanne Ledbetter.

4th week of Advent

Sunday, December 18
At 9AM Taize worship, you are invited to participate in communion.  After the Children's Time, the children will leave worship to sing carols with "Mr. Monty" Smith.

At 9:30AM, participate in the Inter-generational Prayer Bead Workshop in the Hoffmann Room. Encourage and enrich your prayer life during Advent by creating your own set of prayer beads. Śānti Matthews will lead us in prayer bead making for all ages, and will provide us with some information about the origins and use of prayer beads. Prayer beads symbolize a commitment to spiritual life; they can help bring us to the present moment, encourage us to enter into a closer relationship with God, or simply provide a physical comfort and relief from stress or anxiety. Childcare for infants and toddlers provided.

At 10:30AM Chancel Choir members will share their answers to the question,  "Where do we go from here, or what do we do with the Christmas story?"

While the adults are in worship (10:30), the youth will participate in Human Beans Together. Meet in the fellowship hall to coordinate rides downtown where we'll serve a meal to neighbors who are hungry.

After worship, walk across the street to Morningside Assisted Living to sing carols with the residents.  The choir will lead the singing, but many voices are needed. The 30 minutes of singing starts at about noon.

From 6:30-8:30pm all youth are invited for fellowship at the church for Sardines and Smores.   We will play sardines and have a campfire (weather permitting). Please bring a bag dinner or eat before you come. S'mores (or cookies if it's raining) and Hot Cider will be provided.

Monday, December 19
Using poetry in meditation.  Monday Lunch Group, 12:15PM

Saturday, December 24, 5PM
Join us on this Holy Night as we wait together for the coming of the Christ Child with scripture, prayer, song, and candlelight, followed by hot apple cider in the fellowship hall.  This will be Pastor Jenny Shultz-Thomas' first official worship with us as our new pastor.

Christmas Day

Sunday, December 25

At 9AM, Anne Pope will lead Taize' worship.

At 10:30 AM families worship together and all ages are invited to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  There will be no Sunday School for children or youth, and no nursery will be provided.

Monday, December 26
Using poetry in meditation.  Monday Lunch Group, 12:15PM

Candlelight Labyrinth Walk for World AIDS Day

From Adrienne Little, the Social Justice Ministry's representative at Congregations for Social Action:

World AIDS Day “A Time to Remember Candlelight Labyrinth Walk” from Carolyn McClendon,

Millbrook Baptist Church, 1519 E. Millbrook Road in Raleigh, will host the 8th annual World AIDS Day “A Time to Remember Candlelight Labyrinth Walk” on Thursday, December 1, 2016.

The walk will occur from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., and will include a continuous bell ringing and reading of names of persons who have died as a result of HIV/AIDS.  A time of reflection, remembrance and light refreshment will follow the walk from 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. indoors. All are invited to attend and remember…

The labyrinth and garden will be open throughout the day for any and all who wish to walk in silent meditation or sit, remember and pray.  Meditation Guides and red ribbons will be available on site.
           *          *          *
For more information on World AIDS Day, the Labyrinth Walk, or to participate in the reading of names, contact Carolyn McClendon, or 919-247-4240

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thanksgiving worship in the neighborhood

Community Thanksgiving Service
Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7PM
West Raleigh Presbyterian Church, 27 Horne Street

West Raleigh PC will be our hosts.  Pastors, members and the choirs of Fairmont UMC and Community UCC will lead us in worship.  If you would like to sing in the choir, arrive to rehearse at 6PM.

Childcare is available beginning at 6PM.

Working together we go farther

Adrienne Little extends these invitations from congregations in Congregations for Social Justice.  She represents CUCC at their meetings.

1 - Fight for $15 Community Meeting from Ben Carroll  
       Thursday, November 17 | 6:30pm
       Raise Up office | 2220 N Roxboro St, Durham, 27704
On November 29th, 4 years to the day after the first fast food worker strike in New York City, low wage workers across the nation will walk off the job in the largest ever low wage worker day of action. We will demand that elected officials and global corporations raise wages and allow workers to form unions. We see this as the beginning of sustained activity to hold elected officials accountable to the 64 million workers in this country who make less than $15 / hour.

2 - Save the date - CSJ Annual Dinner Meeting from Al Reberg
      Monday, February 6, 2017 – 6:00 PM
      Highland United Methodist Church - Bradley Hall
      1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh 27607
Our Guest Speaker will be David Guice, Commissioner of NC Department of Corrections

An outreach program in Raleigh worth knowing about

Charlotte Yongue grew up next door to Jo and me and became something of a surrogate daughter. She's finishing nursing school at ECU now, and she posted on Facebook a link to a video about a program in Raleigh neither Jo nor I was aware of. Support for the program comes from Christ Church in Raleigh. I share this 8-minute video simply because it's a good thing going on in our community that deserves to be more widely recognized. (Thanks to Betsy Towler for alerting me to Charlotte's post.)

Reconciliation is Hard

So far this week I've attended Monday Lunch Group (Monday), a Religious Education Ministry meeting (Tuesday), and have Bible Study coming up (Wednesday). No matter what the topic or agenda of the meeting, we seem to be still in the mode where something will come up that turns attention to last week's election, and still tears, anger, grief, and unresolved issues are barely skin deep. One person at the meeting last night commented that she was all set to be a gracious winner and offer reconciliation to others until the election broke the wrong way, and then she suddenly found that her reconciliatory intensions few out the window. On the home front my own wife Jo has retreated from the TV altogether and refuses any overture to "come and look at this".

Our niece Sabrina Tavernise has been on the science and medicine desk at the NY Times for well over a year, but she was called onto the political beat to take a look at the wreckage among friends and families that was left in the wake of this election. One of her articles appears in this morning's edition. Here's an excerpt ...

Matthew Horn, a software engineer from Boulder, Colo., canceled Christmas plans with his family in Texas. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, Wash., has called off Thanksgiving with her mother and brother. Ruth Dorancy, a software designer in Chicago, decided to move her wedding so that her fiancé’s grandmother and aunt, strong Trump supporters from Florida, could not attend.

The election is over, but the repercussions in people’s lives may be just beginning as families across the United States contemplate uncomfortable holidays — or decide to bypass them — and relationships among friends, relatives and spouses are tested across the political divide.

Democrats have dug in their heels, and in some cases are refusing to sit across the table from relatives who voted for President-elect Donald J. Trump, a man they say stands for things they abhor. Many who voted for Mr. Trump say it is the liberals who are to blame for discord, unfairly tarring them with the odious label of “racist” just because they voted for someone else.

“It’s all one big giant contradiction in my eyes,” said Laura Smith, 30, a small-business owner in Massachusetts who was attacked on Facebook by a relative for voting for Mr. Trump. “She’s saying to spread the love,” Ms. Smith said. “But then you’re throwing this feeling of hate toward me, your own family member.”

Complete article at NY Times

Monday, November 14, 2016

Safety pin - your signal that you stand with vulnerable people

Have you noticed that people have begun wearing safety pins?

According to a New York Times report, "As a show of support, groups of people across America are attaching safety pins to their lapels, shirts and dresses to signify that they are linked, willing to stand up for the vulnerable."

This Wednesday the youth will decorate safety pins which they will offer to the congregation on Sunday.  Or, you can wear an unadorned pin from your junk drawer.

As Pastor Peg reminded us, actually standing up for vulnerable people takes courage in the moment.  Let us pray for one another - whether or not we wear a safety pin - that we will act in love when the opportunity arises.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Your letter to Santa = $1 to Make a Wish

Dear Friends,

I am sending this to you and asking Cathy to share it in the next several newsletters. By simply sending a letter to Santa via email you can donate to the Make A Wish Foundation Christmas Campaign.

Since 2003 Macy's has been participating in a Believe Campaign. They donate $1 for every letter sent in to Santa (up to $1Million) to the Make A Wish Campaign. Please take a minute to send Santa your best wishes this Christmas and help a sick child's wish be granted in the future.

Thank you,

Anne Bailey

How we see each other matters

This year's political campaign season was ugly. No question about it. And it didn't get much prettier when the votes were counted. As one who is rooted in red-state America but spends most of my time in blue-state America I get caught in the crossfire more than most. Here are two things I've seen or heard in the past 48 hours ...

“It wasn’t just Donald Trump who won last night — it was his supporters, too. The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life...  Men who have no right to call themselves that and who think that women who aspire to more than looking hot are shrill, ugly, and otherwise worthy of our scorn rather than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic [expletive] everywhere.” -- Aaron Sorkin (creator of the TV series "West Wing").

And then just a few minutes ago the blue collar worker who came to repair my hot water heater asked, "Did you see the video of the woman in Oregon who pulled down her pants and took a dump on the Trump poster and then smeared it all over his face?" To him, that image represented the typical Hillary Clinton supporter.

Sometimes over the years I've felt that the greatest sin of all is to dehumanize folks who see things through a different lens than our own. And the tendency toward that sin has only increased as America has diverged into the cocoons that are now red-state America and blue-state America.

Political commentary is good and helpful, even when it's biting or critical. But it's good and helpful only when the artillery is aimed at the candidate and not their supporters. Once we get started targeting the voters who disagree with us we inevitably paint with too broad a brush.

Thanks to all at CUCC who have reacted to the election with cool heads and prayerful hearts.

-- Lavon Page

(Note: This blog is open to all. The thoughts expressed above are my own. If you have ideas or opinions you'd like to share at any time, you may send your comments to Jane Smith or Lavon Page. They will be glad to post your comments. The church policy is that all commentary must be signed.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Author reading: Clare Hanrahan

Adrienne Little sent this invitation from our friends at Highland United Methodist Church

Join author Clare Hanrahan for a reading and book signing

The Half Life of a Free Radical: Growing Up Catholic in Jim Crow Memphis

Tuesday, November 15, 7 p.m.

Highland United Methodist Church
1901 Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27609

Clare Hanrahan will present her new book, and speak on the importance of telling one's story in the context of the political and social realities of the times.  Ms. Hanrahan lives in Asheville and is author of Jailed for Justice: A Woman’s Guide to Federal Prison, Conscience & Consequence: A Prison Memoir, and Dissenting Opinions and Public Addresses on Justice, Peace, & Consequences of Dissent. She is a member of the National Writers Union and North Carolina Writer’s Network.  Her most recent publication will be available at book signings and local book stores.

Praise for The Half Life of a Free Radical
“First and foremost this is an entertaining tale of childhood and adolescence told with great humor, honesty, and empathy.  But it’s also told by someone who became a peace and justice and environmentalist activist in later life, someone able to look back on the poverty, racism, militarism, sexism, and Catholicism of her youth with passion and perspective…” David Swanson, author of War is a Lie

One morning of volunteering - Nov. 12

This Sunday at Forum (9:30AM, Fellowship Hall) we will hear from Dennis Gaddy who works with those leaving incarceration.  Adrienne Little passes along this opportunity to be a help at a one morning event where lawyers will provide pro bono legal help to apply for expungement of criminal records.  Here is the message Adrienne forwarded from Sara Stohler.

Dennis Gaddy called this week and told me about an important new initiative that is being sponsored cooperatively by the District Attorney’s office (Loren Freeman), the Public Defender, NC Justice Center, Legal Aid of NC, Campbell Law School, Dennis Gaddy’s Community Success Initiative, and several other groups.

 On Nov. 12, there will be about 300 persons who have criminal records who qualify for expungement of those records, an action that will make employment and housing more readily available. Lawyers will be at Chavis Community Center from 9-12 AM, offering pro bono legal help to apply for expungement. This is an amazing new initiative.

Loren Freeman and Dennis Gaddy both would like the help of volunteers from the community. Our role will be to help with set-up, give directions and answer questions, and provide a welcoming atmosphere. We will be there to do whatever is needed to make this initiative a success.

If you or a small group from your congregation can participate, please email Sara Stohler

We are asking people to be at Chavis Community Center by 8:30 (or 8:45) and stay until 12:30 or 1:00, as needed.

God Will Not Fail!

Occasionally I pirate a UCC Daily Devotional to share with those don't subscribe via email. Today's devotional seems particularly poignant. The author is Mary Luti, and you can find it on the UCC website. -- Lavon Page

"God's steadfast love never ceases; God's mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning: great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23

We get our devotional assignments long before publication, so I'm writing this  three weeks before the election. The day it's published we'll know who won, but now, as I mess with syntax and synonyms, I'm clueless.

I don't know if it was a squeaker, a landslide, or something in between. I don't know if the pollsters were dead on or if Nate Silver is driving a cab today, scratching his head. I don't know if the loser conceded gracefully or threw a tantrum, nor if the winner delivered an inspiring speech or a cringe-worthy crow.

I don't know if you stayed up late watching the returns or turned in early with a stiff drink and a trashy book. I don't know if you're planning a happy bash for tonight or packing your trunk for Canada or Fiji or wherever you swore you'd go if the worst occurred.

I don't know how happily, sadly, or indifferently this day has dawned for you or me or our country. But I do know this: In ways that really count, this post-election day, momentous as it is, is no different from any other. Like every day, it's a gift from God, a new and pregnant mercy. Like every day, it's a precious clearing in which to meet again the Steadiness that undergirds each change and chance, and in that meeting to believe again that no matter what befalls us or our fragile democracy, God will not fail to hold us night and morning. God will not fail to will and work the good of all creation. God will not fail to be God. God will not fail.

Unceasing are your mercies, O God, new every morning. Great is your faithfulness!

-- Mary Luti

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 7, 2016

Dear friends,

Advent is a very special time in the church year.  In fact, the first Sunday of the liturgical year is the first Sunday of Advent.  This year that will be November 27.

Advent is a time of expectantly waiting for the Christ Child to come yet again.  Your staff has worked hard to create worship experiences that will bring you closer into the story, about a family of refugees and how they made their way in the world.

As you await the coming of the Christ child you will also be awaiting the coming of your new pastor, the Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas, who was called as your pastor yesterday.

As part of my role as your intentional interim minister, I need to give you the time and space to begin your preparation and time of anticipation.  In order to do this my last Sunday with you will be November 20, 2016, the day of the Fall Congregational Meeting.  Ken will come from Connecticut to be with us because he has been blessed by you as well.

It has been my absolute pleasure and delight to have served here and I will take with me wonderful memories and friendships.  Soon I’ll be “living” in West Hartford, Connecticut with Ken, who is already there.  I hope his interim experience is as wonderful as mine has been with you.

In gratitude,

Peg Williams

Peace Picnic - Nov. 13

All are invited to a church-wide Peace Picnic in the fellowship hall on Sunday, November 13, after worship!

Lunch will be served, free of charge, but love offerings will be welcomed to cover the cost.

Former Raleigh gang members who have formed a truce, and now call themselves Save the Youth will share their stories with us. They will be accompanied by Diana Powell, from Justice Served NC, who will share about how she was instrumental in the truce. Their stories are heart-warming, miraculous, and beautiful!

Don't miss this opportunity to support them and to be better peacemakers in our world. Thanks!

– Śānti Matthews

Poetry Slam - Nov. 12

Join the 4th annual Novemberfest Coffee and Dessert with Poetry Slam, Saturday, November 12, 6:30-8:30PM.

If you want to attend, please reserve your spot by sending an email to; also, please let me know in  the email if you plan to recite a poem (original poems are especially encouraged).

We hope to see you for this time of fellowship and fun for all ages!  All are invited to enjoy coffee, tea, and dessert (provided by Stewardship Ministry) and enjoy a variety of poetry readings.

Call Śānti Matthews with questions.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Accessing Dixie Trail parking lot - Nov. 6

The City of Oaks Marathon has Dixie Trail blocked from Hillsborough to Wade.  You can access the Dixie Trail lot from Wade Avenue, but not from points south.

Pull slowly to the barricades at Wade and Dixie.  Officer Rollins will open the barricade for you.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Roads blocked Sunday, Nov. 6

The City of Oaks Marathon (and three related races) will run just south of CUCC.  Parts of Dixie Trail, Peace and Hillsborough Streets will be blocked.

To plan your route to worship, check all four course maps.

Remember to set your clock back Saturday night!