If you would like to participate in the Angel Tree this year, please pick out a stocking located in the Narthex. Each stocking has the name of a child, age, and gift ideas. We received these names from the Department of Human Services. The families were selected if the family qualifies as low income and receives assistance from the Department of social services. The family filled out a wish list. The items listed are only suggestions so don’t feel compelled to follow the list. We have color coded the list in family groups so you know which children live in the same household. Write your name and phone number on the master list next to your child’s name. The number by the name matches the number on the stocking. Go shopping. Spend at least $25 on the gift(s). Your gifts do not need to fit into the stocking, but all gifts must be together. If you have more than one gift, please place the gifts in a bag or a box. Make sure your child’s name is clearly marked on the gift. Do not write your name on the gifts. They are given anonymously. Please bring your gifts to the church no later than December 16th. When you return the gift, please take the angel ornament with your child’s name on it. If you have any questions, please speak with Diane Hay. –2018
Have you heard people talking about a message during Fall Focus this season and wish you could have heard it? Now you can. Click on any of the “Fall Focus” links (like this one “Fall Focus” ) and you will have a summary with video links to each of the four Fall Focus messages from this season. Here is a summary of what we have covered”
Theme: Finding Our Neighbors
- Week 1 “Radical Hospitality”
- Week 2 “Building a Conversation”
- Week 3 “What Will You Live For: Give It Voice”
- Week 4 “What Will Finding Our Neighbors Mean for Good Sam and for You?”
We hope you have enjoyed the playful and creative look at what it means to connect with our neighbors. As always, we wish you faithful journeying with God. (Micah 6:8)
Are you interested in learning more about the needs our community and at the same time listen to great music. If so, join us on Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 3:00 PM for COMMUNITY featuring The Southern Maryland Community Gospel Choir, directed by our own Music Directer, Sherri Fenwick, amazing community leaders that will talk with us about programs to know about and connect with such as Carver Elementary, St Mary’s Food Bank, WARM, Senior Services and much more. This event is open to ALL who want to hear great music and explore the needs of our community. Refreshments will follow.
Carver Elementary is just 1.6 miles up the road from our church. I’ve passed it countless times, it’s a little set back and it’s a nice brick building. Honestly, I usually pass is without a 2nd thought. Inside that school are over 600 students and more than 50 teachers. 82% of those students come from low-income families, and although the school as a whole is rated as “average” for academic progress on greatschools.org, it also reports that test scores are falling way below average and almost 50% poorer performance than the state average. What does that mean? It means there are some serious concerns!
I don’t believe the families don’t care and I don’t believe the teachers aren’t doing their jobs (in fact several of both come to our church). I don’t think these kids just aren’t smart. When you are hungry, are you able to concentrate? When there are holes in your shoes and your clothes are all faded – do you feel good about yourself? Poverty has many side effects, and one is a major blow to confidence and self-worth and it becomes a cycle when the kids don’t have the opportunity to see anything different modeled for them.
The school is currently without an operating PTA (parent-teacher association – normally responsible for fundraising, event organizing and school spirit among other things). The red flag for me here, is not that the parents or school are failing, its that we as a community have not been aware of how small actions on our part can make a big impact! Some of the families don’t have the time or even the skill set to provide for their students. We have the ability to empower children, support families, encourage teachers and make an impact on our community – a community that we HAND PICKED to be a part of.
Teachers’ resources are stretched thin. The supply kit cakes we put together and donated were very well-received and cards and words of gratitude were returned. We helped in part to fill the gap where families couldn’t afford to provide all the supplies for the classrooms. Good Sam community has also sent tutors and mentors over the years that directly impacted student and we’ve begun to create the opportunity for ongoing relationships. Continuing to show up as a community and being a presence at Carver will help to show these kids that they are loved and supported and give them room to have dreams! Let’s continue to step up and step in, not taking the place of parents and teachers, but coming along side them.
Maybe your own time and resources are stretched thin, but if you can do nothing else you can pray for this community every time you drive by it or through it on your way to church or work or just driving around town. Take a look around your home and assess what you could give of your possessions. That gently used kitchen item that may even still be in the box (I’m looking at you salad spinner and quick chop), those toys your kids have that they never play with, that white elephant gift you got at the office party and stuck in the back of the closet. Those shoes you bought that you wore once or anything else gently used in your closet. If you are ready to take that next leap of faith and deepen your personal connection to this community – assess where your time and talents can be of service.
What one thing in the list below excites you? Maybe you can’t personally help – but we are a community and you might know someone who can!
Tutoring – Ongoing, working around volunteers schedule to work with struggling students
Mentoring – Mondays 3-4:30 pm group meeting and projects, but they do need 1:1 mentors for kids in the program.
Holiday Helping Hands – Families are selected to participate by the school. “Helping hands” 1) collect gently used items for babies to adults household clothes and toys as well as NEW toys; 2) help sort and set up Nov 30th 3-6 pm; 3) Dec 1st 9am-1030am families pick gifts and can wrap them while kids play and volunteers help with all of this. After the event, volunteers help clean up.
Family Fitness Night – Oct 25th – This event gives families the opportunity to play together in an outdoor PE class. All activities are organized and extra adults are needed to help monitor stations.
Career Day – First Friday in May. This event gives 3rd – 5th graders the opportunity to meet and talk to community members about a variety of career paths. Volunteers will get breakfast and lunch.
Guest Readers – Do you have 30 minutes of an hour during the school day to come and read to a classroom? There are two weeks a year where volunteers are needed throughout the day to read to students: “American Education Week” in November and “Read Across America” in February.
Teacher Appreciation – Anything we can do throughout the year would be awesome! But especially during teacher appreciation week in May – extra hands are needed to help decorate teachers’ doors. Other ideas are bringing in a box of donuts or providing a light lunch.
Feed the Families (summer)- This program provides supplemental food for families during the summer months. Each summer we assist St Mary’s Caring in the partnership with the schools in collecting items to be given to families.
These are initiatives we have participated in with Carver for up to three years. We know there is more to do to give these kids a chance to dream big and see those dreams come to life. What’s the next way we’ll connect?
–Kelly Thurber, Good Sam Mission and Engagement Coordinator
Building a Conversation
Scripture Readings: James 1:19, Philippians 2:3-4, Matthew 6:19-21
- When people talk, listen completely, most people never listen. – Ernest Hemingway
- “Just as love to God begins with listening to God’s word, so the beginning of love for the person is learning to listen to them.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. – Bryant H. McGill
- “Often a person can be helped merely by having someone who will listen to them seriously.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. – Ernest Hemingway
- When we listen with curiosity we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words. – Roy T. Bennett
Sometimes we miss seeing the blessing and benefit we receive in finding our neighbors. In our first session on Radical Hospitality we explored how being really present and creating space for another is a gift to them and part of the way God creates a graceful space for us to be present with God. But when we welcome another, often elements of our own faith journey will come into play and we discover that God is giving us what we need as well. This is the liberation that often comes with our learning to be about Radical Hospitality.
The next step is learning to play with that graceful space we make between us and another. Here we have the opportunity to learn and practice the art and activity of building a conversation. We are often very centered on what we want to say instead of learning to listen in order to connect. Here are 10 things to consider…
Filling graceful space between us and another with the activity of listening to understand and to connect is a great way to create meaning and better begin to see our neighbor, beyond what we thought we knew about them. There is always more to learn and everyone is an expert in something. Listen in order to discover what the another is gifted in.
You also might read Chapter 16 of “The Whole Brained Child” by Daniel J. Siegel M.D. He talks about how our brains are hardwired for this kind of connection and our brains are built for this kind of connecting and learning to understand each other.
Every year at Good Sam we bring a theme into our lives and explore it together for a few weeks. This year, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 21 we will be exploring the theme: Finding Our Neighbors.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was exploring the question about right and just behavior with a lawyer who was asking aloud what the most important Commandment is. Jesus said, “Love God and love your neighbor.” The Lawyer asked, “Well, then, who is my neighbor?”
It was an important question in the interaction between Jesus and the lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?” And the real answer is that question, “To whom can you prove to be a neighbor?” We might ask ourselves as a church or ourselves personally, “Where can we prove to be a neighbor?”
This year, during Fall Focus we are engaging the theme: Finding Our Neighbors. The discovery may be, that this is a personal journey, as much as it is a corporate or communal journey that we take together. Each Sunday, in these four weeks, we’ll explore a different expression or example of someone who searched out their own story and in the journey, found their neighbors and a new sense of community that was previously unexplored.
This season, we’ll explore these themes in “Finding Our Neighbors:”
Sept. 30 Radical Hospitality and the Liberation That Comes With It
Oct. 7 Building the Conversation; Listening to Connect
Oct. 14 “What Are You Ready to Live For?” Give it Voice!
Oct. 21 What Does “Finding Our Neighbors” Mean for Good Sam and for You?
Join us for these four weeks. Here are some ways to to engage and explore these discoveries:
- Join us each week in Worship, beginning Sept. 30.
- After Worship, join in discussion during “Coffee and Conversation” where we’ll further discuss the message and the theme for that Sunday.
- Join us on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. beginning Oct. 3 through Oct. 24 to review the video message from the previous Sunday and further talk on the theme.
- Listen to the recording of each Sunday’s message and reflect on how your involvement at Good Sam might reflect this message and how your own everyday life might benefit from this theme. Each Monday there is a new post on the Good Sam website that includes a link to the previous Sunday’s audio recording.
“Operation No Starvation” is a program designed to foster volunteerism and instill a spirit of giving in kids ages 6 to 17. The program focuses on hunger prevention through fundraising and food drive campaigns for St. Mary’s Caring. The initiative is designed to inspire kids to engage in community service and begin building a volunteer portfolio, while working with a team of their peers to develop leadership skills. Participants are provided with resources they need to put together their own projects, in addition to group campaigns that target specific programs for the soup kitchen. The group meets the 3rd Saturday of each month during the school year. The 2018-19 School Year Kick-Off meeting will be Saturday, October, 20 at 2:00 P.M.
Check out St. Mary’s Caring website to find out more about Operation No Starvation. (And, see our very own Sydney & Savannah VanCamp featured on the home page. They participated in this program last year.)
Congregations are always trying to find out the rules of attraction. I don’t use the word “attractive” to indicate “hip,” “trendy” or even aesthetically pretty, but a cluttered building does create a chaotic message. I mean “attractive” as in people are attracted to them, attracted to join their God-given mission.
In my years as a parish pastor, I’ve come to believe that the most effective evangelism strategy is the personal invitation. “Come and see” is the line Philip uses on Nathanael in the Gospel of John (1:46), and it’s still the most attractive way to help people walk in the church doors and encounter the gospel.
But there are other ways, of course.
One we use in my community is what I call the “see and come” phenomenon. I refuse to call it a strategy because, when it’s authentic, the “see and come” phenomenon isn’t a tool or strategy for evangelism at all. It’s just the simple outpouring of a community that’s taking Jesus’ call to love the neighbor as the self seriously. It’s discipleship on display.
Where “come and see” evangelism relies on someone extending a personal invitation, the “see and come” phenomenon happens when people outside the church see faith in action and decide they want to be part of whatever God is doing there.
We give clues as to what our community is about by what we’re about. Here are some of my observations of what congregations embodying the “see and come” phenomenon are doing.
They use their space well. God calls us to be good stewards of the earth in the early chapters of Genesis, which includes whatever space your building inhabits. We’re trying to do this in my parish, though it’s always a work in progress. We recently put in two garden beds right by the building’s front entrance. In these beds, small vegetables and table flowers will grow, which means usable produce for our feeding programs and a veritable science lab for our preschool to use to learn about God’s creation.
Like many congregations that have the font at their sanctuary entrance to ensure you can’t enter or exit without thinking about your baptismal calling, we have these gardens at our church entrance, ensuring that you can’t enter or exit without thinking of the practical implications of that calling. In the sea of concrete that is our parking lot, we have a garden oasis, a visible sign of our mission to feed the poor and care for the earth. You can’t not see our mission when you pull into the parking lot.
Everything in and around the church should have a purpose that fits with the community’s current mission. And if it doesn’t, it should be rethought or discarded. Attractive congregations take their space seriously and use it to signal their mission.
They use their energy well. If your neighborhood has to come inside your doors or go to your website to know what you’re about, you’re not engaged enough in what’s going on in your community. Find the issues of need and concern in your small corner of existence and take public action to talk about it. Some congregations create mobile food pantries, march for justice and peace, or regularly and publicly volunteer to address local needs.
Perhaps you have the opposite problem: Your congregation has a finger in every pie and there are never enough volunteers to meet the needs you’ve committed yourself to, so no one knows what you’re about. This isn’t due to inactivity but because of too much activity.
Attractive congregations know what God is calling them to do with their lives and hearts (usually just one or two things), and they do it publicly and to the best of their ability. The community “sees how they love” through their actions and comes to join them in mission.
They use the gifts of others well. The best way to get a potential volunteer to pass on an opportunity is to tell them, “Oh, it’s so easy! Anyone can do it!” If anyone can do it, then they will assume anyone else can step up.
Different people have different gifts. Finding opportunities that highlight a person’s particular gifts engages them both in the church’s mission and in their personal skill set. People outside the church see this when they engage with these people, and the call to sacrifice is actually one that they will take when they see a community using it intentionally, for good.
Not everyone is suited for every role, and attractive churches match people up with their particular gifts so the congregation’s mission is furthered. More and more I’m finding that people want something asked of them in the community of faith. Sacrificial giving of time and talents is desired and, I think, can be required.
When I’ve worked with congregations and talked with colleagues about their particular faith communities, these three themes always come up: space, mission and gifts. The good news is being proclaimed faithfully in these places, but embodying the gospel takes some practice and intentionality.
When the neighborhood can see pieces of our mission before they ever walk through the door, when they can know our heart before we’ve ever said a word, and when they know how mindful we are in using our people’s gifts, they will experience the “see and come” phenomenon.
The life-changing message of Christ is very much alive today, but would anyone know it by looking at our churches? Make it known. Make it heard. When they see, they will come.
The Stitching Sisters group will begin their fall schedule on Wednesday, September 12 from Noon – 3:00 P.M. at Good Sam. Bring a sandwich to share on the luncheon platter. All are welcome to join us! We’ll also be meeting on Wednesday, September 26 for our second gathering of the month. Please let Edna A., Ginger L. if you have questions or would like to join in.
Chancel Choir will begin rehearsals following our summer break Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. Choir practice is from 7:00 – 8:00 P.M. each Thursday. If you like to sing and would like to join in the fun, please join us on Thursday night. The Chancel Choir typically sings at least one –two Sundays each month and may perform a cantata or selection of songs during special occasions and seasons.