Monday, November 23, 2015

ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS

AT SALEM UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

 

WELCOME

Welcome to the Seasons of Advent and Christmas! We open our doors to you and hope you will choose to spend much or all of your Advent and Christmas with us at Salem. Here is a thumbnail sketch of some of our scheduled activities.
 

ADVENT WORSHIP

The four Sundays leading up to Christmas are called the Sundays in Advent. The season marks a time of spiritual preparation in advance of the day we mark as the birth of Jesus. Sunday morning worship is at 10:15.
 

HOLIDAY BAZAAR

Saturday, December 5, is the date for the Christmas Bazaar sponsored by our church's Women's Guild. It will run from 11 AM until 1 PM. The bazaar includes a raffle, craft sale, and bake sale. A lunch of assorted salads, BBQ, pie, and beverage is available at a cost of $7 for adults, $3 for children aged 5 to 12, and free for children under 5. BBQ, pie, and beverage are also available a la carte. The drawing for the raffle will commence at noon. The Guild uses proceeds from the bazaar to support a variety of local and global missions, particular ones affiliated with this congregation and the wider United Church of Christ.
 

CHRISTMAS PROGRAM

The children of our Sunday School, plus the members of our Chancel Choir and Barry Robinson Chorus will stage a Christmas pageant with singing on the afternoon of Sunday, December 13, beginning at 3 o'clock. Refreshments will be served following the program.
 

PORCHLIGHT PRODUCTS PROJECT

Salem's youth are conducting a Porchlight Products Project.  Porchlight Products is part of Porchlight, Inc. of Madison, a non-profit agency providing emergency shelter, food, employment services, counseling, and affordable transitional and permanent housing to over 8,000 people annually. Porchlight Products helps train and support formerly homeless individuals by providing confidence-building job skills and creating revenue to support Porchlight programs. Salem's youth are hoping to raise awareness about this important work in our community by selling Porchlight Product items this Christmas season. Included in the product list are jams, jellies, apple butter, scone mixes, and more. The project here will run from November 29 through December 20.
 

CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP . . . 7:30 and 11:00 PM

Our celebration of the season culminates with two worship services on Christmas Eve, one at 7:30  PM and one at 11:00 PM. Both services include Holy Communion and the Lighting of Candles. Communion at Salem is open to all, and we serve both grape juice and wine along with gluten-free bread. Ours is a pew Communion, meaning the elements of the Sacrament are passed to the people in their seats. The candle lighting at the end of the service signifies the beauty of the meaning of the depth and wonder of Christmas coming to each person.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Open and Affirming Conversations

    Conversations in the Open and Affirming Process are set to begin here at Salem. Two sets of meetings are scheduled. They are identical, but offered at different times, allowing for more participation.

     One four-session set will be held on the following Sunday mornings: October 25, November 1, November 8, and November 15. These sessions will run from 9 AM until 10 AM.

     The other four-session set will be held on the following Monday evenings: October 26, November 2, November 9, and November 16. These sessions will run from 7 PM until 8 PM.

     All sessions will be held in the church's conference room. Representatives from Salem's Membership Growth and Development Committee will facilitate the discussions.

Monday, September 14, 2015

SEEKING GOD'S PATH TO PEACE
Issues in the Middle East
 
Hardly a week goes by without some reference in the news to Israel, Palestine, and U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestine. To help us think about these matters, Salem's Mission Committee is organizing a special four-week Sunday School class. The class will meet at 9 A.M. in our conference room.
 
 
Each session will begin with a brief presentation to be followed with questions, comments, and general discussion. It is hoped each session will stimulate much good conversation about this important issue of our time. The dates and topics are as follows:
 
September 20:      The Context
September 27:      Our Complicity
October 4:            The Danger of Demonization
October 11:          Strategies at Our Disposal

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Christian Education at Salem United Church of Christ

 
A NEW CURRICULUM for Pre-K through 8th grade
Just as a careful farmer rotates crops from year to year to keep the fields fresh and fertile, so a church takes care to change from time to time the materials it uses in its Sunday School. After several years with the lectionary-based Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, Salem's Board of Christian Education has selected for our use a curriculum called Witness.
 
Witness draws upon some of the main Bible stories, from both the Old and New Testaments, to help learners connect in age-appropriate ways with the truth and reality of God today. It invites participants to discover the biblical story, to follow Jesus in faith-filled daily living and service, and to grow in their identity as Christians and people in and of the church. Every lesson will help learners apply Bible stories to their own lives, and guide them in living the story as people of faith today.
 
Some of the individual topics - or "Faith Traits" - Witness will help us explore this year are Compassion, Thankfulness, Peace, Respect, Generosity, Patience, and Wisdom. Connected to each "Faith Trait" is a "Big Idea," drawn from the Bible, which interprets how God is with us each day to help us discover, believe, live, and serve as people of God who put "Faith Traits" into real practice.
 
A NEW FORMAT for Pre-K through 5th grade
Our Sunday School hour will take a new shape this year.
  • We will start with Opening Worship which will include the Lord's Prayer, music, and the Bible story for the day.
  • Pre-school and elementary-age children will break into two groups, The Prophets and The Apostles. Each group will engage the Bible story and theme with activities and discussion to help make the story come alive and apply it to today.
  • The Sunday School hour will end with Closing Worship bringing everyone back together.
  • Parents are welcome to accompany their child through the hour or attend the adult Sunday School class.
A NEW SEASON for 9th grade through adult
Our active high school class and the equally active adult class will not be using the Witness curriculum. Both of these classes will continue to explore scripture and its use in light of contemporary life, current questions, and living issues.
 
A NEW BEGINNING for Everyone
Kick-off Sunday - - September 13 - - 9 A.M.
Potluck Breakfast for All
Bring a dish or two to share - - milk, juice, and coffee provided
A tour of our Sunday School space will follow
 
COME AND SEE

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

 

Christian Education at Salem United Church of Christ

 
A NEW CURRICULUM for Pre-K through 8th grade
Just as a careful farmer rotates crops from year to year to keep the fields fresh and fertile, so a church takes care to change from time to time the materials it uses in its Sunday School. After several years with the lectionary-based Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, Salem's Board of Christian Education has selected for our use a curriculum called Witness.
 
Witness draws upon some of the main Bible stories, from both the Old and New Testaments, to help learners connect in age-appropriate ways with the truth and reality of God today. It invites participants to discover the biblical story, to follow Jesus in faith-filled daily living and service, and to grow in their identity as Christians and people in and of the church. Every lesson will help learners apply Bible stories to their own lives, and guide them in living the story as people of faith today.
 
Some of the individual topics - or "Faith Traits" - Witness will help us explore this year are Compassion, Thankfulness, Peace, Respect, Generosity, Patience, and Wisdom. Connected to each "Faith Trait" is a "Big Idea," drawn from the Bible, which interprets how God is with us each day to help us discover, believe, live, and serve as people of God who put "Faith Traits" into real practice.
 
A NEW FORMAT for Pre-K through 5th grade
Our Sunday School hour will take a new shape this year.
  • We will start with Opening Worship which will include the Lord's Prayer, music, and the Bible story for the day.
  • Pre-school and elementary-age children will break into two groups, The Prophets and The Apostles. Each group will engage the Bible story and theme with activities and discussion to help make the story come alive and apply it to today.
  • The Sunday School hour will end with Closing Worship bringing everyone back together.
  • Parents are welcome to accompany their child through the hour or attend the adult Sunday School class.
A NEW BEGINNING for Everyone
Kick-off Sunday - - September 13 - - 9 A.M.
Potluck Breakfast for All
Bring a dish or two to share - - milk, juice, and coffee provided
A tour of our Sunday School space will follow
 
COME AND SEE

 

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

Vacation Bible School has come and gone. Several Campers Young and Old had a GREAT Time.   Singing, Crafts, Learning and Growing and just plain FUN!!!

Thank you to the Board of Christian Education and all the wonderful volunteers for making VBS such a success.






















Wednesday, July 15, 2015

FRONT PAGE NEWS . . . July 15, 2015 edition
 
 
 
WELCOME
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. Here is a bit of what we are focusing on this midsummer.
 
 
WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY
We worship at 9 o'clock Sunday mornings. Poetry will be on our minds this week. The pastor has been preaching a sermon series this summer under the title "Summer Reading." Each sermon in the series selects a different literary genre and then promotes and summarizes a Bible book which uses that genre. On July 19th the genre will be "A Book of Verse."
 
 
FELLOWSHIP HOUR
Something we call "Fellowship Hour" follows worship every Sunday. Each week someone from our congregation volunteers to host an informal social time after worship. Treats of some sort are served, along with coffee and juice. The coffee is of a fair trade variety. Some folks stand and visit. Some sit and talk. Many talk with a few. A handful mingle around the room. If you come for worship, do plan to stay for the fellowship hour. We try to be welcoming, but, candidly, several of us are shy, so it may seem awkward at first.
 
 
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
We run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) on four evenings in the summer. This year's VBS is scheduled for July 27, 28, 29, and 30, with a kick-off cook-out on July 26. Please contact us for more detailed information.
 
 


SUMMER CHOIR
Music is a big part of our congregation's life. Our choirs take the summers off, but we are organizing a "Summer Choir" to sing two Sundays, one in July and one in August. Participants do not have to commit to both Sundays, and they do not have to have prior choir experience. The selections that will be sung are not complicated, but there will be two rehearsals, one for each of the singing Sundays. The first rehearsal is Wednesday, July 22, at 7 PM here at the church. You do not need to sign up to attend. You do not need anyone's prior permission. All you have to do is show up for the rehearsal!
 
MIDDLE SCHOOL SALT TRIP
SALT trips through Salem are youth mission trips. "SALT" stands for Serving And Learning Together. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, July 21 through 23, are set for a SALT trip for Middle School youth. The mission work and the recreation associated with this trip will take place in Madison. Contact the church for details on how to participate.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FRONT PAGE NEWS . . . July 8, 2015 edition

 

WELCOME!

Thanks for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. Summer tends to be slower and more easy-going for us, but there are some of our current activities and interests.

SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE

Our Sunday morning worship service begins at 9 o'clock. The Pastor is preaching a sermon series this summer under the title SUMMER READING. Each sermon in the series summarizes a book of the Bible, and each sermon draws upon the imagery of a different literary genre. You can read the previous sermons in the series here under the "Worship" tab. This week the topic is "A Love Story." Romance novels are among the best-sellers. This week's sermon will talk about a love story in the Bible. Those of you who are not familiar with Salem or the United Church of Christ should know that we are not among those who interpret the Bible literally. We take the Bible seriously and do not disregard it, but we trend toward liberal interpretations. We have a place for you in our worship service. Come, and be part of worship here this week!

HOLY COMMUNION

The Sacrament of Holy Communion will be served during our worship service this Sunday, June 14. Communion at Salem is open to all. We turn no one away because we believe the invitation is extended to all to "taste and see how good the Lord is." In case you are wondering, here is how Communion works here. We have Pew Communion, meaning that the Bread and the Cup (individual cups) will come to you where you are seated. (This is a sign that the love of God comes to you before you even ask.) We wait until everyone is served before we eat the Bread and drink the Cup. (This is a sign that no one is more important in the eyes of God than anyone else.) We have only gluten-free, casein-free , nut-free bread, and our trays of cups include grape juice as well as wine.

SAFE CHURCH

Salem does its best to provide a safe environment for everyone in our care and for the leaders and volunteers who are helping teach, chaperone, and supervise. Background checks are performed on every person who volunteers to work with children and youth, and training sessions are offered periodically to keep volunteers abreast of our Safe Church guidelines. A training session will be offered following worship on Sunday, July 19. This session is designed to be a "refresher course" for persons who have been through the material before as well as an introduction for those who have not seen the material before. All who are interested in learning more are invited and encouraged to attend.
 

THE VERONA AREA NEEDS NETWORK . . . A Food Pantry and More

The local food pantry began at Salem in the 1980s and, until a few years ago, continued to operate under Salem's auspices, though not as a direct ministry of the church. In 2011, The Verona Area Needs Network came into being as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization overseeing the food pantry. While we are saddened at the poverty that exists in this area, we are proud to see the Verona Area Needs Network's growth and happy to help in its growth. VANN is expanding hours of operation this month, and that is creating a need for additional volunteers. We would like to help. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the church for further information or go to www.vanncares.org.

 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Front Page News . . . July 1, 2015 edition
 
 
WELCOME!
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. The holiday weekend means things are slower around the church, but here is a little bit about where our concentration is focused this week.
 
SUNDAY MORNING
Our weekly worship service is at 9 o'clock on Sunday morning. It lasts about an hour. This week's sermon is the fourth in a series called "Summer Reading." This time the topic will be "A Volume of History," and it will think about a Bible book that speaks about a nation's past and its present day needs. The first three sermons in the series can be found here on the website, under the "Worship" tab.
 
SAFE CHURCH
Salem does its best to provide a safe environment for everyone in our care and for the leaders and volunteers who are helping teach, chaperone, and supervise. Background checks are performed on every person who volunteers to work with children and youth, and training sessions are offered periodically to keep volunteers abreast of our Safe Church guidelines. A training session will be offered following worship on Sunday, July 19. This session is designed to be a "refresher course" for persons who have been through the material before as well as an introduction for those who have not seen the material before. All who are interested in learning more are invited and encouraged to attend.
 
THE VERONA AREA NEEDS NETWORK . . . A Food Pantry and More
The local food pantry began at Salem in the 1980s and, until a few years ago, continued to operate under Salem's auspices, though not as a direct ministry of the church. In 2011, The Verona Area Needs Network came into being as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization overseeing the food pantry. While we are saddened at the poverty that exists in this area, we are proud to see the Verona Area Needs Network's growth and happy to help in its growth. VANN is expanding hours of operation this month, and that is creating a need for additional volunteers. We would like to help. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the church for further information or go to www.vanncares.org.
 
MEN'S FELLOWSHIP
Our church's Men's Fellowship meets once a month at a member's home. The men enjoy conversation over beer or soft drinks and a light supper. A simple Bible study follows in which the men offer comments on a text in terms of life today. Contact the church to learn the location of this month's meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, July 7, at 6:30 pm.
 
THE BIG MEETING OF OUR DENOMINATION: General Synod
Once every two years our denomination, the United Church of Christ, gathers representatives from across the country for a church-wide meeting called General Synod. This year's gathering was the 30th General Synod, and it took place in Cleveland, Ohio, from June 26-30. One of our members was present as a member of the Wisconsin Conference delegation. To learn more about the United Church of Christ in general and what happened at General Synod in particular, you can travel to www.ucc.org.
 
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
We run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) on four evenings in the summer. This year's VBS is scheduled for July 27, 28, 29, and 30, with a kick-off cook-out on July 26. Please contact us for more detailed information.
 
FOURTH OF JULY TRIVIA
You may remember that the famous Liberty Bell was hidden for a time beginning in 1777 to keep it from being confiscated and melted down to make ammunition. It was hidden beneath the floorboards of a church. The church was Zion Reformed Church in Allentown, PA. Salem started out (in 1923) as Salem Reformed Church. We are the same denomination that helped save the Liberty Bell!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

FRONT PAGE NEWS . . . June 24, 2015 Edition
 
 
 
WELCOME!
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. Here is a little bit about where our concentration is focused this week.
 
SUNDAY MORNING
Our weekly worship service is at 9 o'clock on Sunday morning. It lasts about an hour. This week's sermon is the third in a series called "Summer Reading." The first two sermons in the series can be found here, under the "Worship" tab. You do not have to have heard the first two in order to follow the third. Each sermon in this series suggests and summarizes a Bible book. This week the topic will be "A Social Commentary." A faith rooted in the Bible is not a private faith unconcerned about the poor or the needs of social justice. This sermon will look at one Bible book from that point of view.
As for the rest of our Sunday service, it will include times of praying and singing. An offering is received, too, but we do not pressure folks to give; we invite people to express their faith through giving.
 
HIGH SCHOOL YOUTH
Salem's high school youth and their adult leaders continue on their mission trip in West Virginia where they are at the Appalachia South Folklife Center in Pipestem. They are learning about Appalachian culture and the economic and environmental challenges of the area, and they are doing home repair work. Nine youth and four adults are on this trip from Salem. They are due back Sunday.
 
THE BIG MEETING OF OUR DENOMINATION: General Synod
Once every two years our denomination, the United Church of Christ, gathers representatives from across the country for a church-wide meeting called General Synod. To learn more about the United Church of Christ in general and General Synod in particular, you can travel to www.ucc.org where you will find more information. General Synod will take place in Cleveland, Ohio, and run from June 26-30. One of Salem's members is a delegate this year.
 
SPEAKING OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
June 25th marks the 58th birthday of the United Church of Christ. Our denomination was formed in 1957 as a merger of two denominations: the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Each of those denominations had been formed by merger, too, back in the 1930s. You can learn more about this history by traveling to www.ucc.org.
 
BOOK GROUP
Our church has a book group that meets once a month to discuss a book. This month's gathering will take place at the church on Monday, June 29, at 7 o'clock in the evening. The book up for discussion this time is Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann.
 
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
We run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) on four evenings in the summer. This year's VBS is scheduled for July 27, 28, 29, and 30, with a kick-off cook-out on July 26. Please contact us for more detailed information.
 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

FRONT PAGE NEWS . . . JUNE 17th edition

WELCOME!
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ! Here is a little bit about what we are working on this week.

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
We worship at 9 o'clock on Sunday mornings during the summer. This Sunday the pastor will have the second sermon in his summer series called "Summer Reading." What does that mean? It means that his sermon this week will recommend and summarize a Bible book that can make for an enjoyable read. This week the topic will be an adventure story. The aim of this series is to put the Bible within reach of people, and in a way that is neither dull nor intimidating. Here at Salem, we take the Bible seriously, but not literally. The pastor's sermons use Bible passages to help us imagine how God is active in our lives today. So this stuff is not stuck in the past. It is alive to the present. Come and see! You are welcome here.

YOUTH TRIP TO WEST VIRGINIA
Nine high schoolers and four adult leaders will be traveling to West Virginia for a mission trip beginning this Saturday. We call these SALT trips. SALT stands for Serving and Learning Together. The group will be at Appalachia South Folklife Center in Pipestem, West Virginia. They will learn about Appalachian culture and the economic and environmental challenges of the area. The work they will be doing will involve home repair. They are scheduled to return June 28.

THE VERONA PRESS
Watch for a column by the pastor in an up-coming edition of The Verona Press. Not a subscriber? You can find the Press online at www.connectverona.com. Mark's article is about same-sex marriage and it begins to explain why he supports the idea of same-sex marriage.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
Vacation Bible School will be held the evenings of July 27 through July 30. Our theme will be ATHENS: Paul's Dangerous Journey to Share the Truth. A kick-off cook-out will be held at the church beginning at 4:15 on Sunday, July 26. Please contact the church for registration details and materials.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WELCOME!
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ! Here are some bits and pieces we are working on at the present time.

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
We worship at 9 o'clock on Sunday mornings in the summer. The pastor is beginning a new sermon series this Sunday. The series is called "Summer Reading" and each week will recommend and summarize a Bible book that can make for an enjoyable read. Look upon this as a good way to become acquainted with some Bible books you may have been wanting to read but never have. If you are new to Salem, it is important for you to know we are not the kind of Christians who interpret the Bible literally. We take the Bible seriously, certainly, but always as a tool to help us know God and never as a weapon to threaten as if from God.

HOLY COMMUNION
The Sacrament of Holy Communion will be served during our worship service this Sunday, June 14. Communion at Salem is open to all. We turn no one away because we believe the invitation is extended to all to "taste and see how good the Lord is." In case you are wondering, here is how Communion works here. We have Pew Communion, meaning that the Bread and the Cup (individual cups) will come to you where you are seated. (This is a sign that the love of God comes to you before you even ask.) We wait until everyone is served before we eat the Bread and drink the Cup. (This is a sign that no one is more important in the eyes of God than anyone else.) We have only gluten-free, casein-free , nut-free bread, and our trays of cups include grape juice as well as wine.

GRADUATE RECOGNITION
Something special that will happen in our worship service this week is Graduate Recognition. We will give our hurrahs to 8 high school students who are part of the Class of 2015, 7 from Verona Area High School and 1 from Belleville High School. Along with our hurrahs, we proudly give each graduate $1000 scholarship.

MUSIC
Music is an important part of our congregation's life. Two of our choirs, our Handbell Choir and our Barry Robinson Chorus (a men's choir), will offer selections during this Sunday's worship.

RELEVANT TO TODAY
One of our congregation's core values we have identified and try to embody is a desire to be relevant to today. What does this mean? It does not mean that we merely echo what society is saying. It does not mean that we speak only what people and culture want to hear. But it does mean we try to listen carefully with one ear toward contemporary life and the current day, and the other ear toward the living God. We listen with these two ears and then try to use the brains between them, not to make religion relevant but to recognize how religion is relevant, how it speaks a living and vital word to people today. We do not throw out tradition in a quest to be trendy but we do not throw out pertinence in a quest to be traditional.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

THANK YOU
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. Here are some of the emphases we are working on at the present.

9 O'CLOCK A.M.
This coming Sunday - June 7 - is the Sunday we move to our summer worship hour. That means our worship service will begin a 9 AM.

U.S. - MEXICO BORDER
Our Associate in Ministry, Laura Kolden, traveled to the U.S. - Mexico border in February of this year along with a group of people from Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ in Madison. There they learned much about the plight of the people who live near the border, the presence of the church near the border, and other border-related issues. Laura has been sharing some of this with us in her recent sermons. This coming Sunday her fellow travelers from Orchard Ridge will  be present, too, and they will have more to share. Please come to listen and learn about this significant place and these significant issues.

CORE VALUES
Salem's Church Council and some of our other working teams of leaders have identified four core values they see in our congregation. We do not embody these perfectly but we try to embody them to the best of our ability. The core values are being (1) faithful to God, (2) relevant to today, (3) open to all, and (4) striving to improve. We are still involved with trying to understand what these mean and how to better put them into practice. What we hope is that what you read here on our webpage is what you will find to be true when you attend our church. We want to be what we say we are.

WHAT A CHURCH DOES
We use this front space on our website to help you understand what we are emphasizing at the present time. Often these notes are about church programs and events. This week our emphases have been with the life needs of several of our people and of those whom they love. Just this week we have celebrated with two couples in our congregation who became grandparents, one for the first time. Our hearts have been with another couple from the congregation whose newborn did not live long. This Friday a memorial service will be held in our church for a man who has died in his early sixties, and we are also mourning the loss of a woman who was a friend of the church and several in the church. Meanwhile, we will hold a wedding in our sanctuary on Saturday. This is what a church does. We pray God help us be faithful in this important piece of Christian ministry and congregational life.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL (VBS)
Plans are underway for Vacation Bible School. VBS 2015 will be held the evenings of July 27 through July 30. Each night will begin at 5:15 with a family meal and the program will run from 6pm until 8. The theme for VBS 2015 is ATHENS: Paul's Dangerous Journey to Share the Truth. A kick-off cook-out will be held at the church beginning at 4:15 on Sunday, July 26. Registration materials are available at the church. We hope to have registration materials online soon.

WEBSITE
Speaking of registration materials online soon, this Website is still in production. The goal is to have a fresh online presence that is user-friendly, both for the Website visitor checking us out and for the leadership teams here at the church as they provide material to be checked out.

"GROOVE THE FOOD"
On Thursday, June 11, from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM, Beth Kille and Michael Tully will be performing at Tuvalu Coffeehouse in Verona in a benefit concert to support the Verona Area Needs Network (VANN). There is a $10 donation at the door, and it includes music, appetizers, and a raffle. VANN is attempting to raise $420,000 in its "Move the Food" campaign, which is an effort to move VANN's food pantry and other services to a new location.  

SUMMER READING: A Sermon Series for Summer Sundays
Every year there are recommendations for summertime reading. Local libraries, newspapers, magazines, and online publications all provide reading lists. The assumption is the summer days are freer, the hours are more relaxing, and one can kick back and enjoy a good book at leisure. Why not look to the Bible for summertime reading? It is a well-stocked library with offerings from a variety of literary genres sure to please a wide array of reading interests. Dr. Yurs will offer a sermon series this summer that recommends six Bible books for your summer review. The book review sermons will explore a family saga (June 14), an adventure story (June 21), a social commentary (June 28), a love story (July 12), a book of verse (July 19), and a biography (July 26).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

THANK YOU
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. Here are some of the emphases we are working on at the present.

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday morning worship at 10:15 is the highlight of our week. This Sunday, May 31, we will celebrate the Sacrament of Infant Baptism in our worship service. The pastor's sermon is "A Childlike Faith for These Grown-Up Days." Our Chancel Choir will sing. We like to think of our worship style as traditional without being stuffy. We'll have a place for you. Please come.

YOUTH PICNIC at DEVIL'S LAKE
Salem's youth will enjoy their end-of-the-program-year picnic this Sunday. It will be held at Devil's Lake. Youth need to be signed up to attend. Contact our Associate in Ministry, Laura Kolden, to get your name on the list and to find out what you should bring.

OPEN AND AFFIRMING
Open and Affirming (ONA) is the official designation in the United Church of Christ for a congregation that is intentionally welcoming and affirming of persons in the LGBTQ community. Salem has long functioned in this way but has not yet gone through the official process to be listed as an ONA church. We are beginning that process now. An organizational meeting is scheduled to begin working out an appropriate structure for our use of the ONA process. Contact the church, either by phone or email, to learn of the time and location for that meeting. ONA will not be debated at this meeting; concentration will be given only to structuring our process.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL (VBS)
Plans are underway for Vacation Bible School. VBS 2015 will be held the evenings of July 27 through July 30. Each night will begin at 5:15 with a family meal and the program will run from 6pm until 8. The theme for VBS 2015 is ATHENS: Paul's Dangerous Journey to Share the Truth. A kick-off cook-out will be held at the church beginning at 4:15 on Sunday, July 26. Registration materials are available at the church. We hope to have registration materials online soon.

WEBSITE
Speaking of registration materials online soon, this Website is still in production. The goal is to have a fresh online presence that is user-friendly, both for the Website visitor checking us out and for the leadership teams here at the church as they provide material to be checked out.

MISSION AWARENESS and INVOLVEMENT
Vital churches constantly ask and try to answer the biblical question "Who is my neighbor?" Our leadership team for missions is now at work on ways to help us think about our global, local, and even environmental neighbors. Along the way, we will try to get a sense of the needs at our doorstep. Key components of this emphasis will include exploring the complexities of issues, confronting our complicities, and imagining strategies toward what we can do to help solve problems and relieve suffering. Keep checking back here for more information as the mission team continues its planning.

SUMMER READING: A Sermon Series for Summer Sundays
Every year there are recommendations for summertime reading. Local libraries, newspapers, magazines, and online publications all provide reading lists. The assumption is the summer days are freer, the hours are more relaxing, and one can kick back and enjoy a good book at leisure. Why not look to the Bible for summertime reading? It is a well-stocked library with offerings from a variety of literary genres sure to please a wide array of reading interests. Dr. Yurs will offer a sermon series this summer that recommends six Bible books for your summer review. The book review sermons will explore a family saga (June 14), an adventure story (June 21), a social commentary (June 28), a love story (July 12), a book of verse (July 19), and a biography (July 26).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WELCOME!
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. Here are some of the emphases we are working on at present.

WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Sunday morning worship at 10:15 is the highlight of our week here at Salem. This Sunday, May 24, is the Christian holiday known as Pentecost. It remembers the day God's Holy Spirit filled the first disciples, empowering them for mission. We are encouraging our members to wear red to worship this week. The pastor's sermon for the day is called "Why the Church Wears Red." The message has a kind of link to Memorial Day because the church's red on Pentecost Sunday relates to the Christian martyrs who gave their lives in service to the cause of Christ.

MEMORIAL DAY
We move out into the community on Memorial Day. Verona's official commemoration of Memorial Day, sponsored by the local American Legion Post, will take place at 10 AM at the Verona Area High School. Rev. Yurs has been asked to be the Memorial Day speaker this year.

BRAT FEST
A number of our people will be working at Brat Fest in Madison. We do this to help our Youth raise money for their summer mission trips, which we call SALT experiences. SALT stands for Serving and Learning Trips. Our Senior High students will be traveling to West Virginia in June and our Middle School students will be involved in an immersion experience here in Madison.

OPEN AND AFFIRMING
Open and Affirming (ONA) is the official designation in the United Church of Christ for a congregation that is intentionally welcoming and affirming of persons in the LGBTQ community. Salem has long functioned in this way but has not yet gone through the official process to be listed as an ONA church. We are beginning that process now. An organizational meeting is scheduled to begin working out an appropriate structure for our use of the ONA process. Contact the church, either by phone or email, to learn of the time and location for that meeting. ONA will not be debated at this meeting; concentration will be given only to structuring our process.

SUMMER READING: A Sermon Series for Summer Sundays
Every year there are recommendations for summertime reading. Local libraries, newspapers, magazines, and online publications all provide reading lists. The assumption is the summer days are freer, the hours are more relaxing, and one can kick back and enjoy a good book at leisure. Why not look to the Bible for summertime reading? It is a well-stocked library with offerings from a variety of literary genres sure to please a wide array of reading interests. Dr. Yurs will offer a sermon series this summer that recommends six Bible books for your summer review. The book review sermons will explore a family saga (June 14), an adventure story (June 21), a social commentary (June 28), a love story (July 12), a book of verse (July 19), and a biography (July 26).

Friday, May 8, 2015

Weekly News 4/30/15

Faithful to God . . . Relevant to today . . .  Open to all . . .  Striving to improve


Coming to you a day early! (There may be a new May bloom in Bloomington tomorrow who will need to be seen.)

SATURDAY . . . May 2 . . . Spring Clean Up and Work Day
Saturday is a Spring Clean-up and Work Day for the church. Volunteers are needed for work inside and out. You can come as early at 8 AM if you like. We hope to have the chores done by noon.

SUNDAY
Our worship service this Sunday will explore John 21:15-19 in terms of today. How do people who love Jesus feed Jesus’ sheep and lambs today? Who are the sheep and the lambs? Laura Kolden will be in the pulpit; the Children’s Choir and the Chancel Choir will sing.

SPRING SALAD LUNCHEON . . . Thursday, May 7
The Women’s Guild Annual Salad Luncheon will be Thursday, May 7, from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The meal consists of assorted salads, beverage, dinner rolls, and dessert. Proceeds go to support the mission work of the Women’s Guild as they contribute to camp scholarships, the jail ministry, nursing home ministries, and other local and international mission projects. All households of the church are asked to help this endeavor by contributing a salad. The cost of a lunch is $7.00 per person.

MEN’S FELLOWSHIP . . . Tuesday, May 5
Men’s Fellowship will meet at Julian Rhiner’s this Tuesday at 6:30. We gather for refreshments, conversation and a little Bible study.

PROJECT BEAUTIFY . . . Monday, May 4
We have done significant work to improve the structure and appearance of our building, but we have not yet completed the work of decorating it to the glory of God. “Project Beautify” is an interior decorating emphasis to continue what has been started. Its aim is to give a visual witness to our love for God and the church. It will creatively depict to members and visitors alike our love for God and the church and will give expression to the core values our Council, in collaboration with other committees, has identified as descriptive of our church. An organizational and brainstorming gathering will be held Monday, May 4, at 7 PM. Any and all are welcome and encouraged to attend to catch the vision and to share ideas. “I am doing a new thing,” says the Lord (Is. 43:19); “Write the vision; make it plain . . .” (Hab. 2:2).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Weekly News 4-24-15

Weekly News 4-24-15

Faithful to God . . . Relevant to today . . .  Open to all . . . Striving to improve

THE POWER OF ONE

Everyone who is capable of driving has the power to increase worship attendance this week by one.
Everyone is capable of increasing this Sunday’s offering by one gift, however large or small.
Everyone is capable of laboring for the cause of Christ today by performing one deed, whether in the church or in the community.

THE POWER OF PIE
Salem’s youth will hold their annual Pie Auction this Sunday after worship. Donations of pies will be happily accepted. While this is billed as an auction and there will be plenty of good natured bidding competition, there will be alternative means for securing whole pies or slices of pie. Please support the youth as they seek to raise money for their upcoming S.A.L.T. experiences.

THE POWER OF GOD
Our Sunday morning worship service will celebrate the power of God, especially God’s unseen presence. Mark’s sermon is called “Ministry in the Land of Dothan,” following the text 2 Kings 6:15-17. After brief comments on the background to this passage, Mark will pull it into the foreground and speak about our seeing “the horses and chariots of God” today against the surrounding forces that seem to be closing in on us. The Barry Robinson Chorus will be singing in worship this week.

PROJECT BEAUTIFY
We have done significant work to improve the structure and appearance of our building, but we have not yet completed the work of decorating it to the glory of God. “Project Beautify” is an interior decorating emphasis to continue what has been started. Its aim is to give a visual witness to our love for God and the church. It will creatively depict to members and visitors alike our love for God and the church and will give expression to the core values our Council, in collaboration with other committees, has identified as descriptive of our church. An organizational and brainstorming gathering will be held Monday, May 4, at 7 PM. Any and all are welcome and encouraged to attend to catch the vision and to share ideas. “I am doing a new thing,” says the Lord (Is. 43:19); “Write the vision; make it plain . . .” (Hab. 2:2).

BOOK DISCUSSION
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr is up for discussion for this month’s Book Group. The meeting will be Monday, Apr. 27, at 7 PM.

SPRING CLEAN-UP AND WORK DAY, May 2
The Council has set Saturday, May 2, as a Spring Clean-up and Work Day for the church. Volunteers are needed for work inside and out. You can come as early at 8 AM if you like. We hope to have the chores done by noon.

Weekly News 4-17-15

Weekly News 4-17-15

Faithful to God . . . Relevant to today . . . Open to all . . . Striving to improve

SUNDAY . . . Learning from Our Charter Members
Learning from Our Charter Members is the topic for Mark’s sermon this Sunday. He will preach it from the old pulpit (currently in the Conference Room) and the worship service will be structured after the pattern that might have been used in 1923 when Salem came into being. The purpose of the sermon will not be to tell history but to speak to today. Our charter members – we have a list in the handwriting of our second pastor, Herman Lehman – started a congregation when none existed. What can we learn from them about strengthening a church that already exists? (The names of the charter members will be listed in the April 19 bulletin.) (Thanks to John Bass for seeing to the “pulpit exchange.”)

BULLETIN PRODUCTION
Karen Steele will be out of the office and unable to print and collate the worship bulletins for April 26 and May 3. Is there a volunteer who would be willing to take on this task for one or both of these Sundays? The typing will be done. All that is needed is help printing, folding, and collating.

PIE
The Youth will hold their Annual Pie Auction on Sunday morning, April 26. This is a fun-d raiser for the 2015 S.A.L.T. trips. Join in the tomfoolery that has come to be associated with our pie auctions. There is a slice of the fun waiting for you, but, if you win the bid, your competitor may give you the raspberries. (Please don’t complain if you think this pun is a lemon. No one wants to get into a rhubarb with you.)

PROJECT BEAUTIFY . . . . A Witness
Project Beautify is an emphasis on interior decorating to enhance the appearance of our church, making it attractive to the eye, reflective our congregation’s vitality, and expressive of our mission and love for God. It is a witness to the truth for which we stand and the joy we have in our church and its faith. Project Beautify will focus on the sanctuary, fellowship hall, entrances, and conference room. It will draw upon the creative eye and artistic taste of interested volunteers who will capture the vision of beautification and bring it to expression. Interested? There will be an organizational and brainstorming meeting at 7 PM on Monday, May 4. All hands and eyes and ages and ideas are welcome.

OPEN AND AFFIRMING . . . . A Process
Opening and Affirming (ONA) is the official designation in the United Church of Christ to identify a congregation which makes a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Salem has long functioned in this way, but we have not been able to identify ourselves using Open and Affirming language because that language requires a particular process leading toward official designation as ONA. It is important for us to begin this process toward official designation. Numbers of people today, regardless of their age or orientation, will not consider attending or joining a congregation that is not officially Open and Affirming. Our Membership Growth and Development Committee, with the blessing of the Church Council, is gearing up to walk Salem through the Open and Affirming process. This work will culminate with a vote at a Congregational Meeting, likely, though not necessarily, our Annual Congregational Meeting this November. While the committee is taking the lead, the matter will and can only be finally decided at a Congregational Meeting.

FAITH ON THE MOVE: MAPPING OUR FUTURE . . . . A Stewardship
By now you recognize the name of our 2015 Stewardship Campaign that aims to receive pledges from 100% of our people and reach a challenge goal of $295,000. Good progress is being made, but we are not there yet. Do return a pledge card,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekly News 03-13-15

March 15

This week’s road in the GOSPEL HIGHWAY series is The Hard Road (Matthew 7:14). Mark’s sermon will try to convince us that though the road of authentic discipleship is hard it is worth the taking because God stands at the end of it. The Handbell Choir will be playing this week, and the time with children will explore the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer.

MARCH MADNESS . . . Selection Sunday

The Mission Committee’s March Madness Food Drive begins this week with Selection Sunday. The goal this week is to collect 68 items for the Verona Area Needs Network food pantry. That is one item for every team selected for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Help us reach the 68-item goal by having every member of your family bring their favorite non-perishable food item to the church.

UNWRITTEN CHAPTERS

The March 18 midweek Lenten service will focus on the men who did not throw stones (John 8). Come hear about people Jesus inspired to change for the better. A story like this can be full of insight, especially for days like these when angry crowds quickly gather. The service begins at 7 in the fellowship hall and goes for about 45 minutes.

TENEBRAE READERS for MAUNDY THURSDAY

Four more readers are needed for the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service, April 2. Please let Mark know as soon as possible if you are interested in being one of these readers.

FAITH ON THE MOVE: Mapping Our Future

The challenge goal for our 2015 stewardship drive is $295,000. Just imagine what reaching that goal could mean for the life of our church! Missing the goal will only get us as far as we have gotten so far, and that is still short of where we believe God wants us to go. Return your pledge sheet if you have not already done so, and be part of a stronger, more effective, and farther reaching Salem. 

SHOWER

Sherrol and Laura Yurs invite all the ladies of the church to attend a baby shower for Lena (Yurs) Woodis to be held on Sunday, March 15, at 2 in the afternoon in the fellowship hall. Lena and Adam are expecting Rya Isabel at the end of April – or the first week of May, if Grandpa has any say. (The Yurses wish to clarify this is a shower Rya’s grandma and aunt are hosting, not the Fellowship Committee; those showers are for church members currently active.)

DONKEY

Will you help keep an eye out for a donkey? March 29 is Palm Sunday and the donkey who has led our procession in recent years in no longer available. Can you help us find one?

MORE PALM SUNDAY

We will be walking through all of Holy Week on Palm Sunday. Following the procession in the streets, re-enacting Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, those returning to the church will find our building transformed into a series of stops along the way that tell the story of the last days of Jesus on earth. All this will take place during the Sunday School hour March 29. All are invited, both young and old. Bring your friends. No story is more important than this, and the church lives to speak it or it does not live at all.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekly News 03-06-15

NEW ZEALAND

Doug and Barb Smith spent a year living, working and worshiping in New Zealand. The Smiths will tell us about their year this Sunday after a potluck supper at the church. The potluck will start at 5 PM and the presentation will start about 5:45. Bring a dish to pass and come ready to learn about life in New Zealand. Our mission committee is sponsoring this night of global awareness.

UNWRITTEN CHAPTERS

The March 11 midweek Lenten service will focus on the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). Come hear about a man filled with demons but who got his life back with the help of Jesus. A story like this can help us get our lives back when they seem taken away by a mob of duties, responsibilities, worries, challenges, and all the rest. The service begins at 7 in the fellowship hall and goes for about 45 minutes.

FAITH ON THE MOVE: Mapping Our Future

Our 2015 stewardship drive material – FAITH ON THE MOVE: Mapping Our Future – has gone out to all of our members. The challenge goal for this year’s stewardship drive is $295,000. Dr. Seuss’s birthday was last Monday (Mar. 2). Many will remember his poem “Oh! The places you’ll go!” That spirit of excitement can be alive in us as we take on the route of faithful stewardship. Won’t you return your pledge sheet, and won’t you help get behind the wheel of this promising and exciting ride? 

SHOWER

Sherrol and Laura Yurs invite all the ladies of the church to attend a baby shower for Lena (Yurs) Woodis to be held on Sunday, March 15, at 2 in the afternoon in the fellowship hall. Lena and Adam are expecting Rya Isabel at the end of April – or the first week of May, if Grandpa has any say. (The Yurses wish to clarify this is a shower Rya’s grandma and aunt are hosting, not the Fellowship Committee; those showers are for church members currently active.)

DONKEY

Will you help keep an eye out for a donkey? March 29 is Palm Sunday and the donkey who has led our procession in recent years in no longer available. Can you help us find one?

SOUTHWEST WISCONSIN ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING

The Annual Meeting of the Southwest Wisconsin Association of the United Church of Christ will be held Saturday, April 11, at First Congregational Church in Madison, starting with registration at 8:15 AM.  The day begins with worship led by the Reverend Franz Rigert, our new Wisconsin Conference minister.  Following worship, we have a day full of presentations by representatives of SW Association congregations.  Come hear about McFarland’s “Messy Church”; Paoli Zwingli’s experience with Appreciative Inquiry; Dodgeville Plymouth’s Multicultural Outreach Program; and Platteville/Zion’s work with homeless families in rural southwest Wisconsin.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Laura's Border Blog, (Cont)

Tuesday, February 22, 2015

Our day began with conversation with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer, Frank.  Frank is a first generation Mexican American who has worked for the Border Patrol, spent many years as an undercover officer, and now is a supervisor in the Tucson and Nogales, Arizona ICE offices.  Throughout the course of our morning together, several clear themes emerged.  First, was the overall complexity of immigration law and enforcement, which seems to be always changing in its interpretation, subject to funding and political winds.  Second were the very real concerns about the influence and power of the Mexican drug cartels,  and their encroachment in the US:  the drug trade, human trafficking, kidnapping, and weapon smuggling.   Photos demonstrated cartel ingenuity, and extreme cruelty.  Frank feels that the biggest factor empowering the cartels is US demand for drugs, and that the only way to effectively disrupt their influence is to reduce consumption.

This afternoon, we journeyed to the US Federal Courthouse in Tucson, a beautiful new building that was to hold a jarring experience for many of us.  Fellow group members  posted the following apt description on the ORUCC facebook page:

Today the group witnessed a Tucson Federal Court proceeding where 68 men and 2 women (Mexican and Guatemalan citizens) were "processed" as part of Operation Streamline. This effort is intended to deter "illegal immigration" by increasing criminal convictions and prison time.
These young men and women, shackled at their ankles and wrists, were brought in front of the Federal judge in groups of 8. Through a translator, each person was charged with felony illegal re-entry and misdemeanor illegal entry. Each person pled guilty to a plea-bargained charge of misdemeanor illegal entry and was sentenced to between 30-180 days in prison, depending on undisclosed circumstances. Each group of 8 was then removed from the courtroom and then next group brought forward.
This experience has had a profound effect on the group, generating a lot of discussion about the disparity of power in the courtroom, the problems of language and lack of education on the part of the defendants, the dehumanizing effect of the process, and the efficacy of this strategy.
We have only been here two days and we are already deep into the issue, gathering information and experiences that, again and again, remind us of the complexity of immigration in the U.S.

Wednesday, February 23
A fascinating morning with Lupe, a historian who gave us a history lesson of the borderlands from the wider perspective of native indigenous people, sharing the rich and layered history of the region.  It has been only recently that the Border between Mexico and the US has become so tightly controlled:  where once families moved back and forth across both sides, and adjoining communities celebrated festivals from both countries, now there is a wall and a strong, militarized US presence.

This afternoon we crossed the Border, 60 miles south of Tucson at Nogales. 
Crossing into Mexico, we descend into a man-made canyon by a road that twists and turns below high red earth walls, peppered with speed bumps and barriers.  To enter Mexico, requires no passports or custom checks. 
We emerged on the other side to be met by Ceci, our Mexican guide.  Taking the wheel of the van she drove us through steep streets to the  colonia (neighborhood) where we were to stay the night.  Our hosts were warm and welcoming, and we enjoyed time together, with the assistance of our capable translators – getting to know one another over appetizers of cactus salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips.
The conversation continued well into the evening at the home of Rosa and Juan where three of us were staying.  Over a lovely dinner of rice, beans, chicken and vegetables we exchanged stories of family and community from both sides of the border. 


Friday, February 27, 2015

Weekly News 02-27-15

SECOND SUNDAY in LENT

This Sunday we will continue our journey along THE GOSPEL HIGHWAY: Lent and Easter in Terms of New Testament Roads. This week’s road, found at Matthew 7:13, is one we are warned not to take: The Easy Road. Mark’s sermon will point out some contemporary easy roads which lead nowhere but which many find inviting. Are you on one of these roads?

THIRD WEDNESDAY of LENT

On March 4th we will continue our studies in UNWRITTEN CHAPTERS:    The Gospel in Stories Not Told. This time we will imagine the testimony of the little girl who was raised to life in her room. These Wednesday services are held in fellowship hall at 7 PM.

MEN’S FELLOWSHIP

The March meeting of the Men’s Fellowship will be this Tuesday, March 3, at the home of Nathan Bahr. The gathering time is 6:30 PM.

WOMEN’S GUILD

The Women’s Guild will meet at 1:30 on Thursday, March 5. The Guild will give serious thought to its future at this important meeting. Prior to the business meeting, Rev. Jerry Hancock will be present to speak to the Guild about the jail ministry the women of the Guild support.

TENEBRAE READERS for MAUNDY THURSDAY

At least 8 readers will be needed for the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service, April 2. Please let Mark know as soon as possible if you are interested in being one of these readers.