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February 2022 Newsletter
 

If You Love One Another,


Beloved Friends in Faith,

Valentine’s Day…a celebration of romantic love…is February 14th. In one of the scripture readings for this month, Luke 6:27-38, Jesus says, “love your enemies.” From romantic love to loving our enemies, that’s quite a range. Growing up in the church, I learned that the way of Jesus is the way of love. And that the way of love is the hope of the world: from the individual to the human family, to the whole of creation.

One scripture passage that I find especially meaningful for the church, for us, is John 13:34-35. Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It seems to me that Jesus is saying that one of the most important things we can do to impact the world around us is to be an example. By loving each other as Jesus loves us, people see what God’s love is like when it is lived out among people.

Loving each other as Jesus loves us does not lessen, in any way, the importance of our calling to serve our community and our world. Just the opposite, it intensifies it. Loving each other as Jesus loves us means that the love we share with each other is the fuel for our engagement with the world. It means that the love we share out in the world flows from the love we share within the church. It means that the spirit in which we do things is just as important as whatever it is we do.

Jesus calls to treat each other differently from how people in much of society treat each other; in such a way that a person new to the church would experience the difference. At the same time, when we’re out in the community, do we respond to issues the way everyone else does, or do we respond in a way that follows the teachings of Jesus? Qualities that come to mind are found in First Corinthians, 13:1-4, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish together as fools.” Bishop Michael Curry elaborates on that, writing in his book, Love Is The Way, “King was right in the late 1960s when he said it, and it’s right in this twenty-first century. We can no longer afford the demonic luxury of bigotry or the false hope of hatred. We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters, all of us Children of God. As Dr. King often said in this regard, we have two choices before us, chaos or community.”

In all we say and do, within the church and beyond, may everyone know that we’re disciples of Christ by our love for one another.

In Christian love,

Pastor Vern

Worship & Music

Worship resumed in-person in the sanctuary
on Sunday, January 30, 2022
and continues to be live-streamed
at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings
and viewable on the church YouTube channel

Re-opening the Sanctuary: January 30, 2022
A message from the COVID committee


We invite you to consider your own risks and liabilities as you freely choose whether to attend services in-person. Of course, we cannot guarantee that one cannot contract the virus while at church (regardless of vaccination status or prior infection), or that one cannot have a severe outcome as a result, but we earnestly hope and pray with you that this does not happen. We will insist, for now, that those attending wear masks (preferably KN95 or N95) while indoors and maintain a physical distance from members of other households.

We expect some may question the reasons for this change at a time when case rates have surged to record highs. Our response is to ask: how much do we protect ourselves and our community by closing the sanctuary, and at what cost? Can this be reduced to a simple threshold based on current case rates?

Omicron is different from the original strain and the Delta variant in significant respects: it is much more transmissible, it causes less severe disease in general, and it appears to circumvent immunity provided by vaccination or prior infection more easily. As a result, people have become ill at greater rates, and even the lower proportion of “severe” illness among those affected is sufficient to overwhelm the capacity of our health care systems, making it equally or more dangerous than before, as deaths from delayed or denied treatment for other conditions are added to the toll from COVID itself.

However, we must also consider our primary purpose: the spiritual health and well-being of our members and our community. Our faith is to be the cornerstone of our life, our church a central hub of our social life, a main priority rather an optional activity. As a family in Christ, we are meant to gather together to worship and pray, to share joys and concerns, and to support one another in love and fellowship.

We expect that our members who are willing and able have already taken measures to maximize their protection from the virus. Some of us are cautious and continue to “shelter in place,” while many have resumed activities in the community (work, school, shopping and restaurants), where few mitigation measures remain (and often ignored). Attending church—with our protocols still in place—should expose them to very little in the way of increased risk. Compared to current levels of social activity, worship in our sanctuary would result in negligible additional burden on our community’s health care services. On balance, opening the sanctuary would present only marginal risk to the physical well-being of those who might choose to attend services in-person and would be of great benefit to our spiritual health and growth as a community in Christ.

The COVID committee will continue to monitor the course of the pandemic and will make further recommendations accordingly. Questions about our decisions can be addressed to any member(s) of the committee.
 
Jeff Finch, chair                                             Mary Meadows
Rev. Vern Swett                                             Peggy Meisner
Jeanne Brockmyer                                        Kelli Michael
Sue Crescitelli                                               Jane Ransom
Chris Durand                                                 Jeff Wahl
Steve Long

 
Choir rehearsals are resuming

Treble choir will resume Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 6:30 p.m.
Chancel choir will resume Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 7:00 p.m.
The choir will lead music in worship starting February 13, 2022, 10:00 a.m.
Handbell choir will resume rehearsals Sunday, February 13, 2022, 11:15 a.m.
 
Taize Service
Thursday, February 17, 2021, 7 p.m.

Faith Formation

Confirmation meets virtually and will continue to do so at 11:30AM every 1st and 3rd Sunday mornings. SOMETHING NEW: In February we will alternate confirmation meetings with a larger youth group gathering on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. If you have a youth (defined as 6th grade – 12th grade) who would like to participate and needs more information, let Pastor Mary know!
 
Our storytelling event for the Growing Forward in Faith initiative has been moved to May 1 (3pm-5pm) due to the spike in COVID cases.  We will have some form of the Shrove Tuesday (March 1) pancake supper, online and perhaps in person.  Be ready to bring your pancake skills to the table as we also engage in activities to prepare for the season of Lent.
 
In addition to Sunday morning adult education hour, David’s midweek study, and an online book study, adult education has launched two new classes.  The first class meets Wednesday evenings at 8:30 p.m. with Pastor Mary.  This group is starting with a film series entitled “A New Family: Throwing Open the Doors of the Sanctuary,” featuring Rachel Held Evans to explore issues of faith and welcome.  On Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. (and again on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m.), Deacon Jennifer is leading a study on the Hebrew Bible.  Both classes are open to youth and adults and do not require attendance at every session.  You can find introductory trailers and links to the Zoom classroom on our website, Sylvaniaucc.org.
 
Children’s worship will resume Sunday, February 6, 2022.  Meanwhile, follow Sylvania UCC Families Facebook page for updated and late-breaking information.  Pastor Vern is especially hoping for snow some weekend soon so that he can host  a pop-up sledding event on the church hill with children and families. 
The Science and Theology Group
continues on Sunday evenings, 7 p.m. on Zoom

We are reading and discussing the book, Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid: The Fraught and Fascinating Biology of Climate Change, by Thor Hanson, through February 20th or 27th.  Feel free to join in any Sunday, even if you have not participated in previous sessions.  Please email or call Nancy Wellman for more details and how to obtain a copy of the book (meadbakes@french.toast.net or 419-280-6498).

Sunday Morning Adult Education
9:00 AM

In the chapel and on Zoom

 
All are welcome. Please join us! 


Throughout February, we will continue our 6-week “Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures” from the Bible Project.  Deacon Jennifer Vasquez will facilitate discussions as we watch a video each week. The topics include:

1: What on Earth is the Hebrew Bible? (January 23, 2022)
2: How Jesus and the Apostles Read Their Bibles (January 30, 2022)
3: The Ancient Shape of the Scriptures (February 6, 2022)
4: “Seams” Between Texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls (February 13, 2022)
5: The “Seams” of the Torah and Prophets (February 20, 2022)
6: The Prophet to Come (February 27, 2022)
 

 

Click here for the Zoom link

 
Please note: These classes will also be offered on Thursday evenings at 7PM.
Wednesday Morning Study Group with David Andersen
February 2nd and 16th, 2022

 
A new season of the Wednesday Morning Study Group resumes in February, meeting on the 2nd and 16th at 9:30 a.m.  The topic of conversation and study for both sessions in February will be “Life After Death - Still Believable?”
 
Starting in March, it is likely we will begin a brand news series entitled Freeing Jesus, using as a reference Diana Butler Bass’ new book of the same title.  We will focus on Jesus, a particularly relevant topic for the season of Lent.
 
We invite you to join us in-person or online.  If you have questions about the group or the topic, or suggestions for future subjects, please feel free to contact David W. Andersen.

Connection and Engagement

Outreach Board News

Outreach Board has received several thank-you's for recent congregational giving from:

 

Sylvania Area Family Services
Lutheran Social Services of NW OH
US Together
United Church of Christ - disaster response
Grace Community Center
Toledo Campus Ministry
Chicago United Eden Seminary

 
Thank YOU for supporting Sylvania UCC's Outreach efforts!


 

Upcoming Opportunities to serve:

  • Serve on the Board of Directors of Grace Community Center

  • Volunteer for an upcoming "Faith Build" with Habitat for Humanity

  • Help provide a meal for St. Paul's Community Center in the spring/summer

 
 
Social Justice Group News:

Next Meeting: Sunday, February 13th, 11:15 a.m.

Hybrid: Chapel and Zoom
Click here to attend the meeting on Zoom.
All are welcome to participate!!



Afghan Refugee Support:

Thank You for Your January Contributions
of Household Goods and Financial Aid
for Afghans Resettling in the Toledo Area!

 
Updates about current needs will be posted as they become available, as the situation is very fluid.

Would you like to get more involved with the refugees?  Drivers and other volunteers are also needed.  Click here to sign-up to be connected to families by community leaders as specific requests arise.


(Several van loads of your donations have already been delivered to families!)

CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL

Sylvania United Church of Christ Tour

October 6 – 14, 2022

 

We want to alert you to a special pilgrimage that is being planned by a committee of the Sylvania United Church of Christ Social Justice Group. This pilgrimage was born of a desire to become more familiar with the history of the civil rights movement.
                                                                                                                   
The following is a tentative schedule - but still in process of being planned.  Trip will include*:

                Atlanta:  The National Center for Civil and Human Rights.  The Martin Luther King National Historic Park, including the King Center, the tombs, Ebenezer Baptist Church.

                Selma:  A walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge

                Montgomery:  The Legacy Museum. (4 main sections - slavery, lynching, segregation, mass incarceration).  Rosa Parks Museum, Dexter Ave. Baptist Church.

                Birmingham:  Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th St. Baptist Church (where four young girls were killed).

                Anniston:  Where freedom bus bombing occurred.

                *We also hope to include visits to sister UCC churches along the way and hear close-up their perspective on the civil rights movement.

This could be a transforming event for all those who participate.  We hope you will consider taking this pilgrimage with us.  What we would like to ask right now: 

1. Not a commitment to participate, but to let us know if you have interest in attending. This will help guide us and determine if we should continue planning.             

2.  Let us know if you might be willing to help in the planning process and event.  This could be any number of different ways from research to making sure we are all present for each event.

Please speak to any committee member about your possible interest in the trip or helping with the planning.
Civil Rights Trail Tour Committee:  Sue Crescitelli, Barbara EikostAl Compaan, David Andersen.  

Let us hear from you.

Green Team News:

The team has been looking at ideas for programming in April for Earth Month using a kit from Interfaith Power and Light.  We also have ordered seeds to make a pizza garden!

Interested in joining in the fun and want to help with these ideas?  Contact Jennifer Vasquez, Al Compaan, or any member of the Green Team.

Upcoming Events:


Tuesday, March 1, 6-7:30 PM (Tentative) - Pancake Dinner and Lent Festival (An All-Community Event)

Saturday, April 2, 8:30 AM-12:30 PM - Church Planning Event, Hosted by the Diaconate 

Saturday, April 16, 7:00PM - Easter Vigil Experiential Worship (An All-Community Event)

Sunday, May 1, 3-5 PM - Storytelling Day (An All-Community Event)

Summer 2022:
Multifaith Intergenerational Program: Tuesdays in June
Vacation Bible School: July 25-28
 

Congregational Caring Ministries

Prayer Concerns and Joys to Share
 
If you have a joy or a concern that you wish to be shared during Sunday morning worship or passed along to the prayer chain, please email or call the office: church@sylvaniaucc.org; 419-882-0049.

Boards & Committees

Cabinet Update

Financial Update

Wider Church & Interfaith News

WISDOM is a Verb

Supporting older adults
deepening their spiritual lives and
creating communities to encourage and support them

 

You are invited to the fifth Wisdom Conversation
virtual event

Tuesday, February 15 and 22, 2022

2:00-3:30 EST

Registration Fee: $15 which includes both webinars 
 

Join Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, executive director, Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging with United Church Homes and conversations with clergy, chaplains and spiritual directors who will share from their experience of ministries with older adults
 
Rev. Dave Long-Higgins, Heartland Conference Minister, spiritual director
Rev. Rich Plant, retired UCC pastor, spiritual director
Rev. Becky King, Director of Spiritual Care for UCH Trinity Communities of Dayton
Rev. Peggy Thompson, retired UCC chaplain, spiritual director and artist
Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay, retired psychologist and UCC pastor
Rev. Erin Proie, Chaplain, UCH Chapel Hill Community
Ms. Jan Aerie, gerontologist and church consultant

 
Click HERE to register and learn more

Other Info

Notes from Members and Friends


Friends,

We cannot thank people enough for the prayers, phone calls, cards, gifts of food, etc. We both had quite an experience with Delta COVOD. John's evolved into COVID pneumonia and a stay in ICU, probably because his immune system had been weakened by chemotherapy. The good news was that we were both vaccinated and boosted, or it would have been much worse! Anne has recovered, but John is not yet out of the woods; however, he is on the mend. We are filled with gratitude for the medical profession and our friends at SUCC. 

John and Anne Molnar


THANK YOU

Dear Members of Sylvania United Church of Christ,

Thank you!  The bundle of cards and the Zoom birthday party are beyond my imagining.  Never, truthfully did I suspect anything.  It was all a surprise.  Not a word was leaked to me.  What a way to begin a new decade - filled with joy and gratitude.  Thank you for the generosity of your kindness on Sunday, January 9, but also for all the years we have shared together.  You are amazing.

In Christ,

David W. Andersen
 

Sylvania UCC Posting Secretary Position

 

Many of you will remember that when Diane Christopherson began serving as our Church Secretary/Administrative Assistant, the position was noted as “interim.”  That was intentional because our church had seen a lot of transition over the last several years.  We now have a senior pastor who has been with us for a year and a half.  We have strengthened and solidified our staff with the additions of Mary Meadows and Jennifer Vasquez.  We have learned how to cope at least moderately well with the Coronavirus.  We are ready now to take a deeper look at that Church Secretary/Administrative Assistant position as it relates to our “Growing Forward in Faith.”

Below is the ad we have posted in The Blade and on several websites.  We would encourage you to spread the word about this position to any and all persons you think might be interested and who might help us as we grow God’s church in this place.  We are encouraging Diane to be one of those persons who applies.  Please keep this process and the nudging of God’s spirit in your prayers.

Sylvania United Church of Christ, Sylvania, Ohio is seeking an Office Manager who would be responsible for the efficient operation of the church office and administering tasks to support the ministries and mission of Sylvania UCC. This part-time position requires an onsite presence Monday-Friday for 30 hours weekly. 

The successful candidate will have related educational or work experience as an administrative assistant or office manager, proficiency in MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and office tools. The ability to use database programs, websites, social media, and other technology is essential to support ministry needs. A commitment to excellence, flexibility, comfort working with diverse individuals, and excellent interpersonal skills are essential for a successful candidate. 

Click here to view the position description

Please send cover letter and resume by email to:  patsylvaniaucc@gmail.com

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Greater Toledo
 
In-Person Support Groups Are Back!
Meeting now in the new office at 4334 Secor Rd., Toledo, OH 43623

NAMI Connections
Peer Support Group
Every Monday (excluding holidays), 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Family Support Group
1st, 2nd, & 3rd Monday (excluding holidays), 7 - 8:30 p.m.


Contact Kristen Zientek: kzientek@namitoledo.org; 419-243-1119
 
Refer to the online church calendar on the website
for scheduled meetings and events.  


Click here to view the calendar.

Please email church@sylvaniaucc.org to communicate updates, cancellations/deletions, and additions to be made.

Sylvania UCC has added more social media platforms.  Please like and follow us!


Facebook:
Page: Sylvania United Church of Christ
Group: Sylvania UCC Families

Instagram: @sylvaniaucc

Twitter: @sylvaniaucc
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Safety Reminders for Sunday In-Person Worship
 
Masks still required.  See website for details.


Regular hours: M - F, 9 a.m. - noon; 12:30 - 3 p.m.
 
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Choral Anthem, Hymns, Instrumental music streamed with permission under OneLicense #A-702496.  All rights reserved.
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