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The Stone News for January 2006
Pastor's Message for January"Bless to me, O God, each thing mine eye sees;
Bless to me, O God, each sound mine ear hears;
Bless to me, O God, each odor that goes to my nostrils;
Bless to me, O God, each taste that goes to my lips ...
Bless to me, O God, the Three that seek my heart,
The zeal that seeks my living soul ..."
For it could never truly die. Poets and common folks, theologians and writers kept it alive in the British Isles. Critics see its influence in Christian writers such as Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, MacDonald (The Princess and the Goblin) and Madeleine L'Engle.
To renew our faith, we need the work of the imagination - even as grown-ups. In the 6th century, our ancestors required poet-prophets like Isaiah to confront their despair and captivity in Babylon. Later, amid the stresses of the Roman Empire, it was the consummate storyteller, Jesus our Savior, who reminded folks then - and remind us today - to imagine, to see that "the reign of God is among us."
Oh dear, I'm getting carried away. But I envision New Year 2006 to launch an increasingly imaginative faith at Stone Church, as we look for a new head of staff, teach ourselves and our children about Jesus, and serve the poor in the world.
I look forward to leading you on January 29 in a "Spiritual Resolutions" workshop. In this Sunday program, you can connect the dots between your spiritual intentions and your day planners and calendars. In May, I look forward to Dr. Philip Newell, an internationally known Church of Scotland minister - and former leader at Iona Abbey - to help us grow the living edges of our Christian faith.
Winter WonderlandYou are cordially invited to the Stone Church Senior Winter Tea Sunday, January 15, 2006 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the Stone Church Social Hall.
RSVP by January 5 to Carol Decker.
Please let us know if you will need a ride.
Men's Book Group Meeting ScheduleHere is the full winter and early spring meeting schedule for the Men's Book Group. All meetings begin at 7:30 PM. Please note that the January Meeting details have been changed.
On January 23 we meet at Art Holtz's home to discuss Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter.
On February 20 we will discuss One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus. Location will be given later.
On March 20 we meet at Bob James' home to discuss Epitaph for a Peach by David Mas Masumoto. Spouses are invited
On May 15 we will discuss Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King. Location will be given later.
Sweethearts in the Kitchen Returns, with Couples' Retreat, Renewal of VowsAll Stone Church couples are invited to two special events on Saturday, February 11, 2006, in honor of Valentine's Day.
From 9 am to noon, a couples' retreat, Thanks for the Memories, Learning to Love More Fully, will provide an opportunity to learn how to revitalize a loving relationship and rediscover the full meaning of romance. Ed Brackenbury, founder of the Institute for Marital and Family Therapy, will lead the retreat. Ed currently helps the Institute for Christian Resources train graduate students and church leaders throughout Eastern Europe in the fields of marriage, family and pastoral counseling.
The beloved Sweethearts in the Kitchen dinner returns in the evening. This is your chance to prepare a wonderful dinner for your "sweetheart." Both great cooks and nervous "wannabes" in the kitchen are invited. You will be guided in your efforts by a gifted chef, and the results will be marvelous.
At 5:30 pm, a renewal of marriage vows will take place in the Sanctuary, led by the Rev. Marge Palmer. This will be followed by appetizers, wine and music, with the dinner at 6:30 pm, and dancing afterwards.
The cost for a couple is $20 for the morning retreat, $60 for the dinner, or $70 for both events. Sign up in the Social Hall through the end of January. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Pat Magee for the morning retreat, or John Lococo for the dinner. Let us know if you need childcare.
Christian Education Notes
Our Gifts to ParentsAs the Christian Education Board seeks to fulfill our responsibility, we have been exploring ideas from The Family Friendly Church by Ben Freudenburg, particularly his belief that "Parents are the primary Christian educators in the church, and the family is the God-ordained institution for building faith in young people and for passing faith on from one generation to the next."
As we continue to provide good educational opportunities at church for all ages, we want to partner with parents and provide support for them. We're excited to be offering the following gifts in 2006:
Sunday, January 8: Overview of the Winter-Spring Church School
Sunday, January 29: Spiritual Disciplines for Family Life in 2006
Saturday, February 11: Couples Retreat, Renewal of Vows and Sweetheart Dinner
Sunday, April 30: Denise Roy, author of My Monastery is a Minivan, will spend an inspiring and entertaining hour sharing how families can be strengthened through rituals that make everyday moments, as well as times of passage, sacred.
May 5-7: J. Phillip Newell, Perdue Lecturer, will share insights from Celtic spirituality that can inspire participants in their own relationship with God. As parents open themselves to spiritual growth, they can better guide their young people.
I hope you will mark these on your new calendar and give the time for them as a gift to yourself and your family. I love keeping in touch with parents through occasional emails and want to hear your concerns and suggestions.
Sunday Morning Adult Classes in January and FebruarySunday morning Adult Classes are being offered this school year in two broad areas:
(2) spirituality and Christian life.
Special Class for ParentsJanuary 8: Overview of Winter Quarter Church School Classes The Church School will be studying the life of Jesus during the next three months. Units include: the Sermon on the Mount; Jesus with Mary, Martha and Lazarus; the Rich Young Ruler; and Jesus' Healings. This overview is strongly recommended for all parents. Others who would like to learn what and how Stone teaches our children are encouraged to attend.
Bible Study & Church HistoryJanuary 8 - February 26 (except January 22): - The Book of Genesis: Its Meaning for Today
The Book of Genesis is filled with strange, unbelievable stories: creation of the universe in six days, expulsion from Paradise for eating a forbidden fruit, a worldwide flood, and an old man who tries to sacrifice his son. Can these 3000-year-old myths have any meaning for our lives today? Pat Magee will lead this class.
Spirituality & Christian LifeJanuary 8 - 15: The Way of Blessedness
Rebecca Kuiken leads an exploration of Jesus' teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. Each participant will be invited to discover Jesus' vision of the Kingdom of God on earth and to develop and live a personal "rule of life" that helps us reside in that kingdom.
January 29: Spiritual Disciplines for Family Life in 2006
February 5 - 28: Covenants of Stewardship
Group to Discuss Book on Depression"Who has not come upon a season when the water of the soul is disturbed? And does not God meet each of us as we brave the swirling dark in search of wholeness?"
In her candid book, Susan Gregg-Schroeder, a United Methodist pastor, allows the reader to look deep within her soul as she learns to live with this illness, which is increasingly a part of our world. She shares her personal journey, and that of her family, as they work through depression's dark shadows.
Anyone who has personal experience with depression, or would like to learn more about it, is welcome to join this small, confidential and supportive group. Copies of Gregg-Schroeder's book are available for purchase for $10. Contact Rhonda Lakatos to purchase the book and/or to register for the class.
News from the Library
Calendar Exchange Box now in libraryAre you calendar-rich or calendar-poor? Either way, you might like the Calendar Exchange Box in the front corner of our library.
If you have too many new calendars, please bring some to share. If you need a calendar or would like to trade, come and look. (We encourage you to put a dollar or two in the Sunday offering for any you take.)
During the next few months, we'll take all the extras to Sacred Heart Community Service, whose clients are very appreciative of calendars - plain or decorative.
We have these new books for our younger folks:
And on the adult side:
News from Presbyterian Women
Giving Through the Hudspeth Trust
Because of a generous bequest from Ruby Hudspeth, who was active at Stone from 1953 to 1968, Presbyterian Women have a source of funding above and beyond yearly contributions of members. The bequest was put into a legally binding trust in 1995, and for 10 years the PW Coordinating Team has fulfilled trust requirements by using only the interest generated by investments.
During years of very low interest rates, the trust produces less money for projects; as interest rates rise, more money is available. Examples of giving include scholarships to three Stone Church students: Colin Frohlich, Matt Moncrief and Betsy Williams, for 2005-2006. At its December meeting, the Coordinating Team voted to give $200 each to InnVision, Sacred Heart, Next Door Solutions, the church-wide PW "Widening the Circle" leadership endowment fund, Estrella Family Services, Planned Parenthood, and the Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministry.
Any member of the Coordinating Team will gladly share information about how spending decisions are made. Ida Raby is trust treasurer, and Sue Williams is trust secretary.
News from the Church and World Board
Bill Wilson CenterYou can still tour the Bill Wilson Center, 3490 The Alameda, Santa Clara, by calling 243-0222. The 2006 schedules will soon be set, and reservations are required. Joyce Summers reports that they are doing wonderful work with young people in our community. So, get a group together and visit a community service organization that you help to support through your giving to Stone Church.
Adopt-a-FamilyThe Christmas Adopt-a-Family Tree went beautifully, thanks to Sara Holtzapple and Kathie Lloyd. Sara and Kathie would also like to thank Kate Wheatley and friends who made the 87 ornaments for the tree. On Friday, December 9, a crew boxed up the gifts, food and gift certificates for our family, a mother and her six children, and delivered them to Friends Outside.
Christmas Joy OfferingOn Christmas Eve, the Christmas Joy Offering was received, and a report will be forthcoming next month.
Food BasketThe Church and World Board will be instituting the presentation of a food basket on Sunday, beginning in January. Additional details are coming soon.
Construction Help NeededPresbyterian Disaster Assistance has a continuing need for skilled construction help. If you would like to help individually or form a group of workers to travel to the South to help in the repair and rebuiling of churches, homes and other community buildings, please visit PDA's web site by clicking here for further details.
To begin the process of scheduling your group or just to get more information, you may also call (866) PDA-6121. (That's 866-732-6121.)
Capital Campaign Contributions Exceed $800,000Halfway through the five-year Capital Campaign, contributions total $801,442, 60% of that originally pledged.
At the beginning of the campaign in July 2003, the amount pledged was $1,350.000. Today, because of new pledges and non-pledged gifts, the total to be realized from the campaign will be $1,450,000.
Thank you to all who have contributed and continue to meet your pledge. New pledges are always welcomed.
Nominating Committee Begins Search for Church LeadersThe Stone Church Nominating Committee is about to start its yearly work of finding church leaders for terms beginning July 1, 2006. These new Elders, Deacons and Nominating Committee members will join the continuing members in their respective groups.
If you are interested in serving as a church leader, or if you would like to suggest other folks, please use the Nominating Committee box in the Social Hall under the stained glass window. There you will also find descriptions of the jobs of Elder and Deacon.
If you have questions, please talk with Sue Williams, committee moderator, or any current member: Carrie Moncrief, Suzanne Wolf Nilson, Steve Stark, Donald Foster, Marilyn Gardner, Jim Hagan, Dulcie Janzen, Derk Johnson, Ann Pierce, Jeanette Rapp, Ida Raby, June Tablak, Kate Wheatley and Leland Wong.
Session BeatThe Rev. Marge Palmer opened the December 13 Session meeting with prayer. New members were introduced: Jonathan Miller, Suzy Brooks, Bill Downes, Betty D'Angelo and Tom and Jean Hatley. (Jean Raby was unable to attend.)
Fred Oliver, who will co-chair Membership & Evangelism with Ed Tablak, was welcomed to Session to fill an unexpired term.
Clerk of Session, Alice Thorn, requested board members review revised by-laws, which should be adopted in January.
Fred discussed the Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums event; a subcommittee of Stone members will work on this issue. Fred also said Gould, Blach and the manufacturer will make proposals for resolving problems with dark tiles in the Social Hall floor. Proposals will also be made about soundproofing old doors and windows.
Recent problems regarding church facilities were discussed. Personnel & Administration and Buildings & Grounds will work on these issues. Elders were advised to review the key policy (to which they previously agreed). It was noted that a temporary key checkout and keypad number procedure are currently in place. It was also suggested training be offered on new facility use, especially the kitchen. Finally, Mike Donald of Buildings & Grounds offered a solution for cleaning, repair, and other building issues: a half-time custodian. He will prepare a proposal for the Budget Review Committee.
Alan Decker of Budget & Finance proposed $10,000 be transferred from the Holt fund to the "major maintenance fund" for deferred and emergency maintenance. Buildings & Grounds will control this fund.
Membership & Evangelism requested reimbursement, from the Hubin Fund, for members who entertain at adult care centers ($20 each) and for members who paid to move a piano to Live Oak Adult Day Services. These two motions were approved, as well as $125 for piano tuning. It was also moved and approved that Church & World be responsible for the Hubin Fund.
Christian Education is offering a parenting class and reviewing library use. M&E is preparing a spreadsheet of all committee events. Church & World is welcoming Rhonda Lakatos to their board, and Budget & Finance is welcoming Carolyn Clendenning; both additions were approved by Session.
News from the Stewardship BoardThe Stewardship Board would like to thank all of you who have turned in your pledge for 2006. Dean Helms, moderator of Stewardship, reports that although pledges are coming in at a slower rate than last year, giving is up slightly among those who have turned in their pledges. Annual pledges provide the largest source of revenue for the church and are vital to helping Stone fulfill its mission.
This is just a friendly reminder to those who have not turned in their pledges yet. We know that this time of year can be especially busy, but please take a moment to pick up and fill out your pledge card.
Envelopes for 2006 pledges will be in the Social Hall after Sunday worship.