Put on the “New You” in 2020!

It’s 2020! At this time of year, many people are reflecting on their lives and habits, and planning for the future. Who am I? Do I want to change? How can I become a better person?

We believe that part of being a Christian is seeing what guidance we can find in the Bible. In the New Testament there are many statements that start off with “you are…”

When we ask God, “who am I?” there is an answer! In the New Testament we see that we are “salt and light”, “chosen”, “the branches”, “free”, and “a new creation”. What do these phrases mean? How can we live them out? Who will you be in 2020?

Join First Church in “putting on the New You” in 2020! We will be exploring this and more every Sunday at 10:30 AM, from Jan. 19th – Feb. 23rd.

Advent at First Church: “Some Children See Him”

Join us for the Advent season at First Church! In the weeks leading up to Christmas we will be exploring the different perspectives and people involved in the birth of Christ!

This Advent at First Church we will be looking at the different people involved in the Gospel Christmas narratives and how they saw Jesus. For instance, we will explore Mary and Joseph’s relationship to Jesus as (unexpected) parents, Simeon and Anna’s experience of Jesus as older members of the Jewish community looking for hope in difficult times… we will also be exploring the perspectives of the wise men, shepherds, and angels. This series will go on during Advent, and into Epiphany. 

We would like to weave in our own stories as First Church members of Jesus, this is especially fitting since our book club has been reading and discussing the “Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey. What does your relationship with Jesus look like? What does Jesus’ life, teachings, and story mean to you? 

We are looking for one or two people to share for about 3-5 minutes during church for this series on this direction. If you feel led, or would like to share your unique perspective, please be in touch with either Pastor Beth or Joanna! Finally, if you want to share, but aren’t sure what specific direction to go in, or would like a little help, please be in touch about that as well!

Additionally, there will be bulletin art created by YOU each Sunday. There are coloring pages (for kids and adults!) in the Narthex, and in the children’s activity bags. Color in a page of your choice, and turn it in to the church office by Wednesday, December 11. These images will be used in worship and in the bulletins over the course of Advent.

 

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Kids Club, Youth Group, and Fellowship Meal

Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren is kicking off our children and youth programs for the school year! This year, we are extending a special invitation to families in the district and our neighborhood to join us on Wednesday nights as we start a new children/youth programming venture. Kids Club is for ages 4 – 5th grade and Youth Group is for youth in middle school and high school.

Kids Club and Youth Group will be starting Wednesday, September 11th. Children and youth will meet at First Church of the Brethren from 6:00-7:30 PM. There is also a community dinner every Wednesday at First Church from 5:30-6:30 PM: families, children, and youth are welcome to start off their Wednesday night activities at First Church by enjoying this meal together. For more information, please call Joanna Friesen in the First Church office (540)-434-8288.35786354_826095757587210_5914694957624459264_o

 

 

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Prayer: Tuning In Activities

Sunday we talked about the many ways to pray. Often, we are very good at talking, or making requests, but not so good at listening.Here are some ways to practice tuning in to God:

As a family:

Take a walk, a hike or just find a comfortable place to sit outdoors with the idea of tuning in to God. Give your children the task of finding something outside that reminds them of God. At the end of the time, take some time to dialog as a family around the table. Let each person share what they noticed and why. Ponder together what God might have been saying to them as they “tuned in”. Offer a short prayer of thanks for each story and what God taught you during that time.

As an individual:

Try making a routine activity in your day into a time of listening and tuning into God like mowing the grass, folding the laundry, or preparing a meal. Be creative!  Make a note of the things that you notice, or thoughts that seemed significant, or things that grabbed your attention that reminded you of God. At the end of your day, spend time thanking God for the little revelations you received. Ask God to show you if there is more God would like to teach you through these things.

Centering Prayer:

Does your mind drift when you try to pray or listen to God? Try this simple way of praying. Find a comfortable place to sit and prayerfully dwell in God’s presence with an open heart. Make sure that you set aside some time where you will not be interrupted. Turn off noise makers. Now pick a word to focus on that symbolizes your desire to tune into God’s presence; like light, love, shepherd, rock, Jesus… just to name a few. As you sit quietly with your eyes closed, focus on that one word… as thoughts, worries or anxiety arises; gently turn your thoughts back to your sacred word. Allow the Spirit of God to draw you into a place of deeper communion.

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Vacation Bible School

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First Church invites you to join in our Vacation Bible School:  Rolling River Rampage!  It is sure to be splashingly good fun!

Dates:  June 18-21

Times:  6:30pm – 8:00 pm

For:  Rising PK – Rising 8th graders

For more information or to inquire about registration, contact the church office at 540-434-8288.

You may now register online at:  https://goo.gl/forms/fgNA9JwklD4HYOZ53

 

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It takes a little practice…

“Practicing the Presence” can sometimes seem like an elusive thing. Often, that is because we have certain expectations about the outcome… what the divine will look like in our lives. Other times, it is because there is no real formula for success. It is more about practice than perfection. For some of us that is a challenging thought… especially if we want to measure results.

Practicing the presence is more about desire, inquisitiveness and grace. We practice certain spiritual rituals such as prayer, dwelling in scripture, and contemplation because we believe that God is present and we long to notice and experience the grace of the moment when our longing is unexpectedly filled by God’s love.

As I ponder the very peculiar story of Moses and the burning bush, I am struck with three important practices: Read more

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Wednesday Evening Artists

No matter the age, there is always creative fun taking place as we learn about God!  Join us on Wednesday nights!dscn3931dscn3929dscn3925dscn3927

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The Community Garden Project During Weekend of Service

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L to R: Sharon Helbert, Beth Burtner, George Toscano, and Julie Foster

There were six of us folks who participated in the Community Garden Service Project on our church grounds—Julie Foster, Beth Burtner, Brenda Fox, Sharon Helbert, Tish Moore, and George Toscano. We spent the first part of the morning on Saturday, August 13, 2016, putting a 3-foot wide border of cardboard layered with mulch around the garden, giving the garden and the plants a protective barrier. We only got 2/3rds of the way around the garden, but we were proud to get this much accomplished given the heat and humidity that day. The church’s garden group hopes to finish the project in the near future when the summer heat isn’t such a factor.

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Sharon Helbert selecting cardboard to place around the border of the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

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View of First Church’s community garden.

Our garden is a cooperative effort with the New Community Project (NCP). Currently, we have corn growing. The garden is not meant to be a typical garden laid out in neat rows and weed free. Rather it was created in a U-shape which allows it to take advantage of natural drainage. It also is not meant to be plowed but consist of a series of mounds.

Our community garden is a work in progress. So far we have only grown drought resistant plants. Things we still need to do are to get a water source hooked up, and to educate ourselves in order to implement NCP’s garden philosophy and methods. Additionally, we need individuals who can commit their personal time and some financial resources to expanding and maintaining our garden.

We followed up our work in the garden with a tour of the Vine & Fig, which is the community established by NCP along North Main Street in Harrisonburg. You have probably passed by their “White House” with the painted columns on the left side of the street just Washington Street.

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L to R: Julie Foster, Tish Moore, Tom Benevento (our tour guide at NCP), and a pastor from a Pennsylvania COB.

The goals of NCP are to practice peace, justice, and ecology. They transformed a neglected part of the city where there had been two crack houses and instead created living spaces for homeless individuals, individuals who have been in recovery for at least 6 months, immigrant families, and interns. In between the dwellings are gardens and energy conservation experiments. Products from the NCP gardens at this location and in the surrounding area are used in local restaurants as well as to feed the NCP community. In sum, NCP exists so we can learn to live simply in order to protect the earth’s resources, help individuals who have been at the margins of society, and promote peace and justice.

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The greenhouse with a fish pond.

NCP seeks to maximize the output they get from their living spaces and gardens. For example, a greenhouse was dug and built several feet underground in order to take advantage of the earth’s heat. NCP uses the greenhouse to grow food in the winter. They also dug a pond in the greenhouse to use to grow tilapia fish. The pond is under the planting slats, and water from the pond containing rich nutrients from fish excrement is used to fertilize the plants. The plastic covering the greenhouse reflects heat which warms the fig trees grown alongside it that need a warmer temperature. The fig trees, in turn, shade the greenhouse.

NCP works with outside individuals interested in preserving our environment and food resources, and has cooperative arrangements with a number of colleges such as Juniata College and Laverne College. On the day of our tour, a Laverne college intern was spending his last day at NCP and a group from a Brethren church in Pennsylvania was working in the gardens. We also observed a moment of silence when a bell tolled calling us to pause to slow down, enter a time of quiet, and enjoy the natural world around us.

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L to R: Julie Foster and Tish Moore checking WoS Facebook posts while at The Little Grill.

At the end of our Community Garden Service Project, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Little Grill, a worker owned coop and café. The Little Grill supports farm to table practices and uses local ingredients as much as possible.

A big thank you from the garden group to Julie Foster who planned a very enjoyable day for us!IMG_20160813_115747152_HDR

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Weekend of Services Signups Start July 24!

Sign Me Up!

Sign Me Up!

Weekend of Service Signups begin Sunday, July 24 for projects that will be held on Saturday, August 13. Signup sheets are located in the narthex along with donation boxes to provide the teams with the supplies they will need, if any.

Weekend of Service Projects

(1) School Kits – 8/13 – 9:00 am till done – Ruth & Auburn Boyers Assemble 100 school kits in church Fellowship Hall for delivery to the Shenandoah District Office School Kits

1 pair rounded tip blunt metal scissors

3 70-count spiral notebooks or notebooks totaling 200-210 pages

1 30-centimeter ruler (12 ʺ)

1 hand-held pencil sharpener

1 box 24 (only) crayons

1 large eraser

6 new pencils with erasers

1 12ʺ x14ʺ to 14ʺ x17ʺ cotton or lightweight canvas bag with cloth handles

NO LOOSE-LEAF OR FILLER PAPER

(2) New Community Project (NCP) Garden on Church Grounds – 8/13 – 9:00 am through lunch – Julie Foster and NCP Representative The group will be working to create a weed-free barrier or edge approximately 3-feet wide around the entire garden with wood chips. If the group completes the barrier, they will put in fall flowers on the edge facing the road. The group will work until10:45 am. Then, the group will go to Vine and Fig to get a tour and informational session regarding projects located at the NCP white house on North Main/Liberty Street. After that, the group will go to The Little Grill Co-op for lunch. Individuals will then have the opportunity to join other Weekend of Service projects after lunch. Flat cardboard – large pieces (broken down boxes, etc.)
(3) Grocery Bag Distribution & Collection for Blue Ridge Area Food Bank – 8/13 – All day – Derek Young & Micah Morris Youth and advisors, and interested adults, will distribute bags in the community on both 8/3 and 8/10. They will collect the bags and deliver the food to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank on 8/13. Cereal

Peanut or Almond Butter

Canned Tuna and Chicken

Canned Soups, Stews and Chili

Canned Fruit

Canned Veggies

Beans, Canned or Dried

Boxed Mac & Cheese

Pasta and Rice

Spaghetti Sauce

Paper Products

Baby Food, Formula, and Diapers

Soap, Toothbrushes, and Feminine Products

(4a) Park Trash Pick-up and Bottled Water Distribution – 8/13 – All Day – Heather Smith & Sandy Kinsey

(4b) 2:00 p.m. – Bingo with Bridgewater Assisted Living Residents (2nd Floor Activities Room)

Children and interested adults will clean up Westover Park behind the church. Afterwards they will distribute bottled water to individuals in this and possibly another park. They will conclude the day with a visit to Bridgewater Retirement Community to play a game of Bingo with the residents. Bring a hat & wear sunscreen Large Trash Bags

Small Surgical Type Plastic Gloves

Bottled Water

(5) Hospital & Firehouse Visits – 8/13 – All Day – Carol Stickley & Cathy Grogg Visit the local hospital, fire stations, and emergency squads, and distribute candy with notes attached thanking the staff for their service to the community Lollipops

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(6) Camp Brethren Woods – 8/13 – All Day – Camp Representative Work at Camp Brethren Woods staining wood railings and decks if time permits. The camp was so happy with the work that we did to last year that they would like us to help them again with staining Supplies to be provided by the Camp
(7) Salvation Army – 8/13 – All Day – Emily Morris Dust and steam clean/ vacuum the men’s area of the Shelter. Also clean windows. The Shelter provides cleaning supplies, but appreciates donations. Items that you might want to bring are cleaning supplies, plastic work gloves, and cleaning rags

We will use the same T-Shirts as last year. If you want to order one, there is a signup sheet for this as well. Payment for these is on a donations basis (write a check to the church with WoS T-Shirts in the memo line).

We are collecting Food for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, and New or Gently Used Paperbacks for the Middle River Regional Jail’s Library.

The Weekend will start off with entertainment on Friday evening (planning still in the works). There will be a simple breakfast available on Saturday morning (bagels and coffee) prior to our prayer/commissioning service which will begin at 8:30 a.m. Then we will break into teams and head out at for the service projects. Upon returning to the church, a cook-out will be served followed by free swimming from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Cecil F. Gilkerson Community Center pool just behind the church.

Camping. Interested individuals and families can pitch their tents or bring their campers and park them on church grounds both Friday and Saturday nights. All are welcome to the camp fires and S’mores where sharing of the days’ events and fellowship will be enjoyed. Please just indicate on the project signup sheets whether you plan to camp either or both nights.

On Sunday, August 14 during the church service, the project teams will share their experiences and reflections on our 2016 Weekend of Service. So come to our Weekend with your smart phones, cameras, enthusiasm, families and friends. And follow us at #loveserverepeat, Harrisonburgfirstcob.org, and https://www.facebook.com/fcobharrisonburg/.

Follow us!

Follow us!

Aaron (L) and Derek (R) Loading Raft

July 10, 2916 Adult Raft Float Trip

Here are photographs of the raft float trip taken by adult members of First Church and their friends on the afternoon of July 10, 2016. The trip was led by Derek Young, our Coordinator of Adult and Youth Ministries. Derek is also president of Outdoor Adventure Experiences Inc. (http://www.outdooradventureexperiences.com/), which has been providing adventure programs and trips in the Shenandoah Valley for over 25 years. In addition to the children, youth, and adults of First Church, Derek has worked with public recreation departments, scouting programs, special needs groups, private and public schools, and individuals. Derek’s philosophy is that the best way to protect and care for our natural resources is by inspiring individuals during an adventurous recreational experience. Derek was assisted on this trip by Aaron Garber (a former member of our youth group) and Emily (a Bridgewater College student). Thank you Derek, Aaron, and Emily for a great summer afternoon!

Sharon Helbert and Friends

Sharon Helbert and Friends

LtoR: Derek Young, Don Brown, Joyce Leake, Libby Smith, David Shaffer, & Brenda Fox

LtoR: Derek Young, George Toscano, Don Brown, Joyce Leake, Libby Smith, David Shaffer, & Brenda Fox

LtoR: Tom, Brenda, & Blair McGloon

LtoR: Tom, Brenda, & Blair McGloon

LtoR: Don Brown, Sharon Helbert, Joyce Leake, & Brenda Fox

LtoR: Don Brown, Sharon Helbert, Joyce Leake, & Brenda Fox

Aaron (L) and Derek (R) Loading Raft

Aaron (L) and Derek (R) Loading Raft

Beth Burtner

Beth Burtner

Emily

Emily