It’s September. There are four months left in 2019, but in many ways, with the end of Summer and the start of another school year, much of our focus in the church is now on innovative ideas and new programs. In short, though not a date on the Christian calendar or the Gregorian calendar, September becomes almost the first month of a new year in the church.

     I was going to introduce this article with the phrase Better late than never, but as usual, I veered off onto a rabbit trail. I say better late than never because since January of 2019, when the new officiates (committees) of the churches took over, I promised to meet with each group to explain the duties and commitments of being a member. Well, I met once with a couple of the trustees at LeValley and my commitment went no further, until now. Over the last few weeks, I have met with the combined Pastor Staff Parish Relations Committee and the trustees at LeValley. I will be meeting with the worship committee at LeValley for a retreat on September 7th. More meetings will follow. If there are new members of any committees in January, I am hoping the committees themselves can train the newbies. If not, I will assist.

     Speaking of new committee members, it is that time of year again. The nominating committees will begin working soon on slates for both Berlin Center and LeValley to be voted on at our church conference. The Conference will be held in October, but is yet to be scheduled. I am hoping it will be a date and time that will permit many of you to attend.

     I continue with my weekly coffees on Wednesday mornings at Sozo’s. Along with good coffee, delicious pastries, and wonderful fellowship, several ideas have surfaced. One was more congregational participation in worship. I have mentioned this before, but I haven’t worked hard at implementation. In case you’ve forgotten, the mantra I would like to follow is E.P.I.C. worship. The acronym stands for Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, and Connective. So, we will fulfill one segment by being more participatory. I hope if I ask you, you will be willing to say yes. I promise I won’t, as I did with James Middleton one Sunday, ask you to be Satan. Smile!

     A second interest that has been expressed is more Bible study. I would like to hear from some of you as to a book of the Bible that interests you and a time to meet that would be most convenient. If I don’t get responses, I will decide myself and go from there. I am willing to facilitate both a daytime and evening group.

     I am going to continue with my Thursday morning women’s small group. With this group, I would like to make it more of a book club based on the Sensible Shoes series.. Author Sharon Garlough Brown invites you to join in the journeys of four women as they gain a new understanding of friendship, spiritual truths, and a deeper life with God. In Sensible Shoes, we will meet these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and embark together on a journey of spiritual formation. They find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation:

     Hannah, a pastor who doesn't realize how exhausted she is.

     Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past.

     Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage.

     Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right.

The journey is continued as the women face roadblocks in the second book, Two Steps Forward, and in the third book, Barefoot, they are challenged to embrace the joy of complete surrender. In the final book, An Extra Mile, the women are navigating both deep joy and devastating loss. Read how they find equilibrium in the midst of all that has changed. I invite any women from Berlin Center and LeValley to join this group which will meet at 10:30am-noon on Thursdays beginning on September 12th.

     I would like to stress that each of you may lead a small group, as well. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had several groups of men and women meeting throughout the week at the churches and/or in homes! I am sure I am forgetting something that has been discussed, but one last thing that I would like to mention is Sunday School. The adult Sunday School at LeValley continues to meet at 9:45am in fellowship hall. All are welcome to participate. Bonnie Galloway is the facilitator if you have questions. A possible children’s Sunday School convening at the same time has also been mentioned. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?!?! I don’t want someone who wants to participate in the adult class to teach the kids, so we need to brainstorm about a possible teacher from within the church, or, if necessary, the option of hiring someone from outside the church family. My mind is swirling right now. Perhaps, if we could hire someone, they might also be willing to organize a youth group. Just maybe? Another smile!

     Do you have programs, worship ideas, or anything else you would like to see at Berlin Center or LeValley? Let me know. I am open to all ideas.

Pastor Nancy

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