Wednesday, June 24, 2015

FRONT PAGE NEWS . . . June 24, 2015 Edition
Thank you for your interest in Salem United Church of Christ. Here is a little bit about where our concentration is focused this week.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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

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

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.

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 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 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

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).