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The Stone News for July 2006
Pastor's Message for JulyDear Friends,
I have been your pastor for 15 months, and during that time, we have received 36 members into our church fellowship. In the last five weeks, six children and infants have been baptized. Many who have recently united with Stone Church are young couples with small children. This bodes well for our future.
What is it that attracts people to Stone? Is it our moderate to progressive theology, our excellent music program, our openness to all people, our fine Christian education program for children and adults, our beautiful renovated building, our traditional but flexible worship service, our attention to social justice? It is all of these things plus one more important factor: our hospitality.
In the past week, I have heard several comments. One woman in the area dropped by to observe our Sunday worship service. She reported that after the service four people greeted her. She said this was awesome because in her experience it was unusual to be welcomed this way. On another Sunday, the grandfather of one of the babies who was baptized said this is the friendliest church he has ever attended, and if he lived closer, he would join the church in a minute.
Stone Church is known as a friendly church because of you, the congregation. It is your hands of fellowship that bring new members into the church, and it is your loving care and concern that keeps them here. To be hospitable is part of our Christian heritage dating back to the Old Testament where welcoming the stranger was a way of life. We know that Jesus included in his ministry everyone from the rich to the marginalized to those in between.
Because to be welcoming is who you are, I'm sure you will continue to bring people into our church through your friendly manner, thus insuring a solid future for Stone Church
Save these Dates!
Social Hall Re-flooring: July 17-22The social hall will be off-limits from July 17-22 while new flooring is installed. This is being done at no additional cost to Stone Church. It is a replacement for the defective cork flooring.
Patio Fiesta on July 23On Sunday, July 23, Membership & Evangelism will host a Patio Fiesta from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Save the date, and stay tuned for more details!
Good-Bye Potluck for Rev. Kuiken on Aug. 6On Sunday, August 6, a potluck lunch in the social hall will honor the Rev. Rebecca Kuiken. Look for sign-ups on Sundays during July. For more information, contact Deborah Crim
High School Group Helped Build Homes in Central ValleyNine members of the Stone high school group, along with four adult advisors, left Monday, June 19, for a weeklong mission trip to the town of Earlimart, about 30 miles south of Visalia, in Tulare County.
The group worked on two building projects organized by Self-Help Enterprises. These projects usually consist of about 30 houses being built for people who have very small incomes or who are minority or farm workers. Each family that will live in a house must put in 40 hours each week to help build their house and the other houses in their neighborhood. Our high school kids are helping these families by providing much needed construction assistance.
Some of the construction work includes building the wood walls for the houses (framing), assembling electrical boxes, and making washing machines and dryers run. They also helped with landscaping by laying sod. The kids worked for about six hours every day, and it was very hot where they were working. Everyone is the Stone family wished them a very satisfying and safe trip.
(Note: Click on photo above to see a larger image of the group.)
CROP Walk a Resounding Success!Derk Johnson wants to thank everyone for their CROP walk participation. Nineteen walkers raised $2,950 - an increase in both funds and walkers from last year!
Farewell, Lucik and Elizabeth!In June Stone Church members and friends said fond farewells to two very gifted staff members - Choir Director Lucik Aprahamian, who left to work on her PhD. Degree in Conducting; and to Office Manager Elizabeth Sorensen Agnew, who left to pursue her intended career in Family Counselling. Here are photos to remember them by.
Christian Education Notes
Summer Provides Fun, Learning Opportunities for Church School YouthHeifer International's Read to Feed challenge this year features rabbits and more rabbits! Church school and Vacation Church School students are enjoying a beautiful rabbit named Cottontail (thanks to the Doherty's and Sam Hudson-Crim's loving care) and learning how "a gift of rabbits to a family with little land and few resources yields remarkable results."
If you simply keep rabbits warm and dry, and feed them leftover vegetables or potato vines and grasses, each female rabbit will produce up to 40 offspring a year. In addition, rabbits provide nitrogen-rich manure for families to use in their gardens for crops or to sell. From Chicago to Haiti to North Korea, families are raising Heifer rabbits on their back porches or even in their kitchens. And, of course, each family that receives a rabbit passes on the gift of the first female to another family, leading to even more rabbits!
Our students have received materials to find sponsors and start reading (for fun and for rabbits!) during their summer recess. Stop by the Reed to Feed table after worship in July to offer to be a sponsor. Donations will be collected only on July Sundays and by individual readers.
Your great support in 2005 resulted in giving $1,601 to Heifer International to purchase more than three heifers at $500 each. Just think how many rabbits we can buy at $20 each! Thanks in advance for your help in teaching our young people to care for others!
Summer Church School is exploring how "Christian Love Encircles God's World." Students from kindergarten and up are seeing how Presbyterians are doing mission in Malawi, Kenya and other African nations; Haiti, Guatemala and other countries in Central America; as well as Russia and Cambodia.
We meet every Sunday of the summer except July 2 and September 3, which are holiday weekends.
Sunday Morning Adult Study
Nicaraguan Equal Exchange Coffee and "Living the Questions" are Summer Adult Study OptionsHave you ever thought about the faces behind your daily cup of coffee? Join Jim and Linda Hagan on July 16 as they report on their January journey with the Presbyterian Church delegation that visited Equal Exchange coffee co-ops in Nicaragua. See the faces of Juan, Pedro, and Dixon, and see how fair-trade coffee has improved their lives.
Jim will show the video he made, as well as hold a discussion on the coffee process. The video includes a quick tour of a sweat-free women's sewing co-op that makes the t-shirts distributed through the national Presbyterian Church offices in Louisville, Kentucky.
From mid-July through August, Adult Study classes will be based on the new, exciting DVD series, Living the Questions. Here is a quote from the foreword to this series:
"Living the Questions is for those who are yearning for something more than the shallow platitudes that pass for theology in many churches. It's for those who are looking for a resource within the institution that encourages questions and sparks open dialogue ... There is a revolutionary re-visioning of Christianity already emerging in the world. It is our hope that Living the Questions will play a part in your discovery of the relevance of Christianity in the 21st century and what a meaningful faith can look like today."
For more information about this groundbreaking educational opportunity, you can click here to visit their website.
Jerusalem Marketplace Event PhotosHere are photos from the memorable Vacation Church School at the Jerusalem Marketplace, which took place from June 19-23. Students traveled back in time to experience a synagogue school, village playground, family traditions and crafts, including carpentry, baking, weaving, leatherwork, jewelry, pottery, candy, and brick-making. Students also heard stories of Jesus' life.
News from the Library
Animal Behavior, Home Renovation, Baseball: Diverse Topics of New Library BooksThe church library has recently added the following new books. Come browse in our library and tell us what you'd like!
Younger folks will find these new books:
News from Presbyterian Women
Stone Church women to attend Churchwide Gathering of PWTina Luebcke, Dulcie Janzen, Claudia Hamm, Catherine Edwards, Diana Lim and Sheri Cunningham will be representing Stone Church at the 2006 Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women, which takes place in Louisville, KY, from July 7 to 11.
Global Exchange visitors from BrazilFred and Bea Groppuso are hosting two women from Brazil, Adriane de Souza and Irene Sivalee, June 26 to July 2. These women are here as a result of a PW Global Exchange that sent women from the US to Brazil in October 2005. Adriane and Irene will attend worship on July 2 and will be honored with a salad lunch, which is open to all, in the social hall following the service.
Brunch features speaker from California IMPACTElizabeth Sholes, Director of Public Policy, California Council of Churches IMPACT, will speak on the links between legislative issues of women's health and our faith principles, at a brunch on August 26. Reserve the date; more information is forthcoming.
News from the Church and World BoardThe Church and World Board receives requests for many things, from funds to volunteers to recyclable materials. We respond whenever we can, and thanks to our congregation, we make great strides toward filling needs in our community, near and far.
The Friends Outside organization is asking for cell phones - new or used, working or not - which they will recycle to raise money for their program. You will find a plastic box for donated cell phones (and used batteries) next to the clothing barrel, at the top of the stairs leading to the lower level.
Watch the C&W bulletin board for the Call to Faithful Witness for the Interfaith Council. On June 20, the Council began a series of roundtable discussions, which will continue through the summer.
We received a thank-you note from the staff at ACT for Mental Health, as well as two personal notes from clients, for work done by Stone members at the All-Church Mission Workday; they are really enjoying the newly painted and renovated room. Thanks again to all who participated in the workday.
The amount of $733.50 will be given to the Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley (Smythe Clubhouse) to be used for scholarships. This represents 40% of our Pentecost Offering, which is earmarked for local mission.
On average, five large bags of clothing are taken to Sacred Heart Community Service each week. After each Communion Sunday, several bags of dry goods and canned items are also taken to Sacred Heart. Thank you for your boundless generosity.
Session BeatAt its regular meeting on June 13, the Session accepted a letter of resignation from Elizabeth Sorensen Agnew with great appreciation for her service with and for us. The Session re-elected Alice Thorn to be Clerk of Session, elected corporate officers and elected Commissioners to Presbytery - all for one-year terms.
The Mission Study Report was accepted with gratitude to the committee for its great work. The Session concurred with the language of equal opportunity and non-discrimination as written in the Church Information Form being prepared by the Pastor Nominating Committee.
Personnel & Administration reported that 70 to 80 resumes were received for the church administrator position and 13 for the choir director position. P&A is very close to filling both positions.
Membership & Evangelism led a discussion of how best to recruit new committee members; the Session voted to hold a moderators' meeting to share information on members' skills and interests. M&E also reported that there will be a Rally Day on September 10.
Buildings & Grounds reported that our new custodian, Victor Perez, is super.
Church & World reported that they and the Rev. Marge Palmer are working with neighbors to resolve concerns about the Rotating Shelter, which will be at Stone in September.
Christian Education reported that nine high school students and four chaperones are off to a Mission Trip and 30 children are registered for Vacation Church School.
Fred Oliver reported that he will attend General Assembly in Birmingham; he will be in charge of arrangements for worship and music when the GA meets in San Jose in 2008.
And lastly, the Session expressed appreciation to members of Session who are retiring.
News from the Stewardship Board
Planned Gifts: An Easier WayIn recent years, making wills and establishing bequests have been the focus of planned giving in many churches. Clearly, a bequest is one of the best ways to make a planned gift: it becomes the centerpiece in expressing your lifelong values and commitments as part of your will. Nevertheless, establishing a bequest can be a challenge.
Bequests, by definition, are part of a larger estate plan, which can be intimidating. To make a bequest, you may feel you must finalize your end-of-life plans. Or, you may already have a strong estate plan and are reluctant to go through the process and costs of revising it to add a bequest to the church.
Thus, you should know that there are simple, quick, and free alternatives if you want to remember the church in your estate, but are not prepared either to proceed with full-blown estate planning or to change your current will. One of the best and easiest ways to make a planned gift is to make the church the beneficiary of a retirement plan. IRAs, 401(k)s, and other qualified retirement plans can hold considerable assets accumulated through the discipline of investment and resulting tax-free growth.
These assets can pass through tax-free to the church if it is designated as the beneficiary or joint beneficiary. Even better, you can simply request a beneficiary designation form from the plan and list Stone Church as a beneficiary. And finally, another very simple option is to make Stone Church the full or partial beneficiary of an existing life insurance policy.
Much of the above is derived from an article by the Reverend J. C. Austin, a PEER (Presbyterian Endowment Education & Resource) board member.