Crossroads December 2018

Christmas Eve Service
A Family Tradition with Crèche, Carols and Candlelight
Monday, December 24 − 7:00 p.m.

There will be nativity tableaux vivants (or living scenes) featuring young folks in the roles of Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men. Choir and congregation will join in many carols. The service will end with a spreading of candlelight throughout the sanctuary. Pastor Trina will give a brief message. The Christmas Joy Offering will be received. This service is a wonderful way to introduce friends and neighbors to the church – and maybe to make a difference in their lives.

Every generous act of giving …is from above.
In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth of love that our words cannot. As important as gifts to loved ones are, we have an opportunity to give gifts that help many people we do not know through the Christmas Joy Offering. These gifts in particular draw us back to the manger and God’s perfect gift to us — Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to live among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God.

During this Christmas and Advent Season, we celebrate leadership; past, present and future through support of the Christmas Joy Offering. We do so because church leaders greatly impact our lives of faith, walking with us down the path to be more like Jesus. We want those church leaders and their families who find themselves grappling with a critical financial need to have the resources they need which are provided through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions. We also support the offering to help our future leaders in the church and world, like those educated at our Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. Supporting these students helps the whole church develop leaders who reflect the wideness of God’s intended diversity.

For those supported through the Christmas Joy Offering, this help is truly a gift from above. May our gifts, and the leaders who receive them, point us always to the truth of the one whose birth we celebrate, Jesus Christ — the truly perfect gift. Please give generously.

The Season of Waiting
There are many plans and opportunities for worship during Advent, including particular ways in which many of you are invited to participate.

The Hanging of the Greens and bows will be on December 1 at 10am-12pm in anticipation of all that Advent and Christmas holds for us. Again we have an Advent Wreath at the front of the Chancel and each Sunday different members and families of our congregation will have a turn to light a new candle on the wreath.

Wednesday, December 19 at 7:00 p.m. is the time for our “Longest Night” service.
Similar to Advent services we have offered in the past couple of years, this evening will provide a different perspective and meaningful space during the holiday season, for reflection, prayer, introspection and quiet.

Brenda Flynn is again planning and directing our annual Christmas Eve Tableaux. Letters have gone out to families to recruit participants in the tableaux. Brenda has also put out the call for help with costumes, and for adults to help ‘shepherd’ (aka wrangle) the participants before and during the Tableaux. Rehearsal is scheduled for Sunday, December 23.

Also on December 23, immediately following worship, before tableaux rehearsal, the Trustees will be setting up the stable in the sanctuary for Christmas Eve. They will need and appreciate additional help with this.

The Christmas Eve Service with Tableaux and candle lighting happens on Monday evening, December 24, and is a beloved tradition at BPC.

To round out the month, Mark Vogel will be leading worship on December 30 and be leading us in a service of lessons and carols/hymns.

Fair Trade Holiday Sale

Save the date and get your Christmas gift list ready! On Saturday, December 8th from 10 – 3. You’ll have the opportunity to do your holiday shopping for a good cause. The Mission Group has invited nine not-for-profit vendors to bring their products for sale here at the church. Possible vendors include Equal Exchange, SERRV, Partners in Just Trade, Fair Trade Winds, and Mayan Hands and a range of products will be available including candles, jewelry, scarves, woodwork, embroidery, coffee, tea, and chocolate.

Proceeds will go to mission programs of the church, in addition to supporting the fair trade vendors and artisans who make the products.

Invite your friends and family, and spread the word! We’d love to see a good turnout for this event and will be looking for volunteers to help during the sale on Saturday. If you would like to help with the Holiday Sale, please contact Jane McIninch, (781) 864-9367.

Longest Night Service

“Comfort, comfort my people, says God”

There are many moments in our lives when we need comfort. There are tough times when we yearn for consolation. The suffering people who looked for the long-awaited Messiah were given a hope-filled image of God in the writings of Isaiah. It expresses the belief that no matter what happens to us, God will be there to comfort and support us.

Advent and Christmas can be a painful time for many in need of that reassurance and comfort. The constant refrain on the radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people of what they have lost or have never had. The death of a loved one, whether recent or long ago, the anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation – all these can make us feel very alone in the midst of the celebrating and spending. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know that we are not alone.
We need comfort and encouragement to live the days ahead of us.

For these reasons, we are offering a special meditative Longest Night Service, Wednesday evening December 19, at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

Come out, and join with us in sharing and hearing prayers, scripture, and music that acknowledge that God’s presence is for those who mourn, for those who struggle – and that God’s Word comes to shine light into our darkness. Everyone is welcome.

Clean Water Collection
We have counted the “Clean Water” collection and deposited about $182! Our congregation has a generous heart. During our Sunday school classes we will decide how many jerry cans and water filters we will buy through Presbyterian Giving.

Trustees Report
The fall cleanup finally occurred on November 3rd. We had a reasonable turnout, despite a little rain and wind, and a lot was done to prepare the church and grounds for winter. The fall commuter collection took place on November 13th and 14th. Thanks to Tom Hennings and Ken Dewar for braving the rain and cold respectively. We collected over $3,500 in donations with hopefully more coming in by mail.
The carpets in the Narthex and the double classroom were cleaned and the hallways and Fellowship Hall were cleaned and waxed in September. Try to keep the Narthex carpet clean by wiping your feet on the runner as you enter the church.

All the work on the restrooms are now complete with just a little paint touchup needed in the women’s room. Try to remember to turn off the lights if you are the last to leave the restrooms.

A reminder to all to close and lock any window you open and check that all doors are locked before you leave the church. A special request for parents to lock the playground door when you retrieve your children.

Women’s Bible Study

Women’s Bible Study has started a new study with the Horizons study called “For Everything, A Season: A Study of the Liturgical Calendar”. On December 13, we will be having our Holiday Brunch or Cookie Swap. All women of the church are invited to join us. We meet on Thursday mornings at 9:30. See Marylou Lynn if you have any questions.

Food Pantry Needs
We receive donations for the Food Pantry on the 1st Sunday of each month. The Food Pantry needs donations on a continuing basis. Please consider purchasing some 20 oz. dish detergent, individually wrapped bars of soap or bottles of shampoo. Your help is appreciated. Thank you!

Hanging of the Greens
Saturday, December 1
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Get in the holiday spirit with us! Join the Deacons on the first Saturday of December for the Hanging of the Greens! We will decorate the church for Advent and Christmas. Advent begins on Sunday, December 2!
Coffee & donuts will be provided.

Poinsettias
Last day to order Poinsettias will be Dec 2.
Please give your order form and money to Kathleen Stegall by December 2.
Thank you.

Mitten Drive
We are once again participating in the PJs, Sweatshirt, Mittens and Books Christmas Drive for People Helping People. This is part of the wishes for Christmas. If you would like to participate, see Anne Denier to obtain a card. PJs, Sweatshirts, Mittens and Books are to be dropped off at the church by Dec 9. Do not wrap, just attach the card to the gift. Thank you again for your continued generosity!

Songs for Cameroon
On November 17th, about 80 people from the Presbytery of Boston and from the Eliot Presbyterian Church in Lowell (Presbytery of Northern New England) gathered at the Korean Church of Boston for an afternoon of song and learning about the humanitarian crisis in Southern Cameroons. Seven church groups sang a wide range of music, and we heard an inspiring message from Elder Ruphous Takang of the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Easton. We also watched a video about the deadly and devastating conflict which is ongoing in Southern Cameroons, and the oppression of the people by the government and paramilitary forces there.

We received a special offering at the event, which raised almost $3,750! A combined total of $4,296 was raised from the concert and the offering from the November 12 Presbytery Meeting, held at First Presbyterian Quincy. The offering will go to the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon (PCC) to support ministry and relief efforts for internally displaced persons and refugees from the conflict through a designated mission fund of the Presbyterian Mission Association. If you would like to make a contribution, you may do so directly through PCUSA, by going to https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/e864103/ and clicking on the Give button.

To give by phone, call 800-872-3283. To send a check, please designate E864103 PCC in the “note” portion of the check and mail to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
Many thanks to Korean Church of Boston for hosting, and to the groups and musicians who sang at the concert:
First United Church in Cambridge
Christian Women’s Fellowship Choir of Eliot Presbyterian Church
African Fellowship Choir of Eliot Presbyterian Church
Clinton Presbyterian Church
Young Adult Praise Team of Korean Church of Boston
Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
Fourth Presbyterian Church
Stephanie and David Rodriguez, Clinton Presbyterian Church
Virine Morris, Hyde Park Presbyterian Church

November 2018 Crossroads

Benefit Concert for Southern Cameroon
November 17, 3 – 5 pm
The Korean Church of Boston, 32 Harvard Street, Brookline MA

As the violence increases in Southern Cameroon and the refugee situation worsens, join us for a night of music to raise funds and awareness to help those in need.

Those who are interested in collaborating on efforts to help our sisters and brothers in Southern Cameroon are invited to stay for a conversation following the performances.

Worship
New Music Director, Susan Larson, has begun her service with BPC and after a bout with bronchitis was able to start playing and directing the choir in worship on Sunday, October 21. Please note that Susan will be using a corner of the back classroom as her ‘office’. She has a desk and file cabinet there and would appreciate that anyone using that room for a class or meeting respects her space and the items she keeps there. Be sure to welcome Susan and introduce yourselves. If you’ve thought about singing in the choir before, now is a great time to start – Advent and Christmas are a wonderful season for music in the church! If you’d like to ring handbells, see Judy Brunner for more information and rehearsal times.

Coming up in November, on Sunday November 18 is the annual Harvest of Offerings. You have the opportunity to bring non-perishable food items to help People Helping People provide Thanksgiving meals to families that are served by the Food Pantry in Burlington. There will be a list in the Bulletin of items to contribute. Deacons and Worship are coordinating this effort for BPC and we will need some folks, including youth, to help package up the donations to take to UCC for processing after worship on 11/18. It won’t take long if several people pitch in!

The next evening, November 19, we are hosting the annual Burlington Interfaith Thanksgiving service at 7:00 p.m. in our sanctuary. James McIninch is coordinating the refreshments following the service and asks the congregation to help provide the food. There will be a signup sheet in Fellowship Hall where you can indicate what you will bring. If you are not able to attend the service you can still help provide the food and bring it to church when you come on Sunday, 11/18. We expect a large number of our neighboring Burlington congregations to come for the service. Hospitality, Deacons and Worship are coordinating the plans and will need help with setting up, serving and cleaning up. Let us know if you can help with any of that.

Looking even farther ahead, the Worship Committee and Deacons will again coordinate the Hanging of the Greens to decorate the church for Advent on Saturday, December 1st, from 10 am to noon. Come and help us deck the halls and get in the spirit of the season!

Hanging of the Greens
Saturday, December 1
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Get in the holiday spirit with us! Join the Deacons on the first Saturday of December for the Hanging of the Greens! We will decorate the church for Advent and Christmas. Advent begins on Sunday, December 2!
Coffee & donuts will be provided.

THANKSGIVING IN-GATHERING
NOVEMBER 18TH

Each year, prior to Thanksgiving, UCC hosts a wonderful event at their church. On November 18th they will sort food, help families shop (adult volunteers only), deliver to shut-ins, vets, etc. and deliver remaining food to the Burlington Pantry.

What we need from you is the following, (no expired dates please!):
Gravy Chicken Broth Cornbread Mix
Stuffing Mix Cranberry Sauce Canned Corn
Mayonnaise

It’s only a few items, but we need many! Fresh produce and turkeys will also be purchased and given to the Burlington Families who would otherwise not have a Thanksgiving Dinner. If you would like to make a monetary donation, please make a check out to PHP (People Helping People) and bring to worship on or before November 18th.

Want to help! Call Bobbie Killilea at UCC 781-272-4547. Please note distribution to the families between 2-5pm, ADULT VOLUNTEERS ONLY! Children can help sort food noon-1:30pm.

Fair Trade Holiday Sale

Save the date and get your Christmas gift list ready! On Saturday, December 8th from 10 – 3, and after church on December 9th, you’ll have the opportunity to do your holiday shopping for a good cause. The Mission Group has invited nine not-for-profit vendors to bring their products for sale here at the church. Possible vendors include Equal Exchange, SERRV, Partners in Just Trade, Fair Trade Winds, and Mayan Hands and a range of products will be available including candles, jewelry, scarves, woodwork, embroidery, coffee, tea, and chocolate.

Proceeds will go to mission programs of the church, in addition to supporting the fair trade vendors and artisans who make the products.

Invite your friends and family, and spread the word! We’d love to see a good turnout for this event and will be looking for volunteers to help during the sale on Saturday. If you would like to help with the Holiday Sale, please contact Jane McIninch.

Deacon’s Corner
A note about the prayer chain: Part of the ministry of the deacons is to let the congregation know when there are special needs within our church family for which prayer has been requested. In an effort to ensure that those prayer requests are communicated to the wider church as quickly as possible, we have been working hard to create a digital directory that will allow us to send out one electronic communication to all who have opted to receive email notifications. We are also working on a system to notify people by telephone or text, if that is your preferred method of communication. You will receive a form requesting your preferred communication for receiving prayer chain messages. Please return this form to Kathleen in the church office to ensure that we have the most accurate and up-to-date contact information for you. Also, we encourage you to notify Pastor Trina, Jay Araujo, or Kathleen Stegall when you have a prayer concern that you would like to send out to the church-wide prayer chain. We ask that these prayer requests be used for urgent or imminent concerns, such as surgery, emergency hospitalizations, or a death in the family.

As we look toward celebrating the birth of our Lord, there are many activities coming up in the life of the church with which the Deacons will need your help!
Please join us for Hanging of the Greens on Saturday, December 1st, from 10 – noon. More information can be found later in the newsletter.

The Harvest of Offerings will be received on November 18th. A list of items is available in Crossroads and will be at church as well. We will need some volunteers to stay after church on the 18th to help sort and transport items collected to the UCC Church.

This year we will be using a sign-up website for the Wish Tree Schedule. For those that do not have access to a computer, you can let any one of the deacons, or Kathleen, know what shifts you are available and we will update the list. We will post updated lists each Sunday on the board in Fellowship Hall. We will also be sponsoring our annual Pajama and Underwear drive, cards will be available later this month.

Information about the Poinsettia Sale will also be coming soon!

As you can see your deacons are busy at work and we welcome any and all volunteers to help these events a success! Please see any deacon for more details.

Stewardship Report
Thanks to your generous contributions, our Peace and Global Witness Offering this year is $1044. Thank you one and all.
During this season of harvest and thanksgiving, we bring our offerings of time, talent, and treasure for the coming year. Stewardship packets will be available to pick up at church on Sunday, November 4th including your pledge card and your time and talent questionnaire. An online version of the time and talent form will also be available this year (thank you, Jane!). The mission and ministry of the church cannot happen without the support of all of us, from our youngest members and friends to our oldest. Your pledges help us plan our budget and mission priorities for the coming year and give us a sense of what is needed from other financial sources to meet our needs. Our annual Harvest of Offerings is on November 18th, when we will receive your pledges for the coming year along with donations of non-perishable food items for the People Helping People Burlington food pantry.

October 2018 Crossroads

Worship Committee

We have been incredibly blessed to have Claudia Waite with us as Temporary Choir Director, leading the chancel choir and revitalizing our music program over the past year, and we are extremely grateful to her for her guidance and contributions to music at BPC during that time.

The subcommittee that has been conducting a search for a new, permanent Music Director has been hard at work for the past several months. The big news is that their hard work has resulted in the announcement made on Sunday, September 16 that BPC has a new Music Director! Her name is Susan Larson and there will be more information introducing her elsewhere in this Crossroads. Her first Sunday with us will be October 14.

During the summer several “volunteers” washed, mended and pressed the choir robes and stoles so hopefully the choir looks a little bit spruced up as we begin a new season.

We will celebrate World Communion together on Sunday, October 7 and receive communion by intinction. We would like to decorate the Communion Table with colorful cloths from different cultures and traditions. Please let Rev. Trina or Jen Dewar know if you would like to bring a cloth or length of colorful fabric to help decorate the Table on October 7.

Worship Assistants for October and November are list below. If you are available and willing to volunteer for one of the open Sundays, please contact Jennifer Dewar.

As always, we appreciate all those members who help in many ways with worship each week, including worship assistants and communion servers.

Trustees Report

As many of you can see, we had the entrance to the parking lot paved on September 20th. A paving contractor had some material left over from other jobs and gave us a good price to cover more than 2,500 square feet.
The fall cleanup date has not been determined as of this writing but should occur sometime in October or early November. We had a good turnout in the spring so we encourage everyone to plan to help your church again. The fall commuter collection will take place in November. We collected over $4,500 in donations from our spring collection.

The carpets in the Narthex and the double classroom were cleaned and the hallways and Fellowship Hall were cleaned and waxed in September. Try and keep the Narthex carpet clean by wiping your feet on the runner as you enter the church.

A reminder to all to close and lock any window you open and check that all doors are locked before you leave the church. A special request for parents to lock the playground door when you retrieve your children.

Christian Education

This year, our Sunday school classes have a mission focus of the need for clean water after a disaster (and we’ve certainly had plenty of them recently in our own country and around the world!).
Please look for the posters that the children & youth made. We’ll have an empty water cooler placed outside the sanctuary every Sunday and we encourage you to drop your coins or a dollar in it. Our goal is to purchase water filters and jerry cans through Presbyterian Giving.

Mission Advocacy

World Food Day and Bread for the World Sunday
Two of the seven “Great Ends of the Church”, spelled out in our PC (USA) Book of Order are:
• the promotion of social righteousness; and
• the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.

October brings opportunities to help carry out these two “Great Ends”. World Food Day, October 16th, honors the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and focuses on food as a basic fundamental human right. Bread for the World Sunday, October 21st, is a time to join with thousands of other churches and houses of worship to live out God’s vision through prayers for an end to hunger, and letters to our nation’s leaders urging them to support policies that help end hunger and poverty. In the Gospel reading for the day (Mark 10:35-45) Jesus tells his disciples not to lord it over on another but to live as servants just as Jesus himself came not to be served but to serve.

We live in a wealthy nation yet 14.5% percent of US households, nearly 49 million Americans (including nearly 16 million children), struggle to put food on the table. Many Americans age 65 and over want to enjoy retirement but struggle because of food insecurity. Jesus told his disciples that, “with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10: 27). In this spirit of God-given possibility, we are invited to offer our prayers and actions for an end to hunger. During the week beginning October 14th the Church Office will be sending emails to the congregation with reflections on the problem of hunger. On the 21st we will celebrate Bread for the World Sunday with worship and prayers that will focus on hunger. After the service there will be an opportunity in Fellowship Hall to participate in an “Offering of Letters” asking Congress to invest in and protect programs that help improve the lives of men, women, and children facing hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. Computers will be available, and with the help of templates provided through links on the Bread for the World website, it will be simple to send personalized messages to our Representatives and Senators. For those unable to attend the event here is the link to access the Bread for the World website.

Churches and charities can help end hunger but can’t do it all; our government also has a part. From the law and the prophets to the words and works of Jesus, the Bible teaches that individuals and the nation’s leaders must help those who are vulnerable to feed themselves. Investments in domestic safety-net programs, such as WIC (Women, Infants & Children), SNAP (Food Stamps), free and reduced-price school meals, and tax credits for low-income workers help our neighbors move out of poverty and feed their families. In the current political environment such programs face potential decreased funding and increased restrictions. We help promote social righteousness and exhibit the Kingdom of Heaven to the world when we advocate for investments in programs that move people out of hunger and poverty.

LOVING GOD, we are grateful for your blessings to us. We pray that we may imitate Jesus in embracing service to others. We pray for those who lack food and who are without loving family and friends. We pray that our public officials may accept their responsibility for all our neighbors, both here and abroad, especially the poor and vulnerable. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Women’s Bible Study

Womens Bible Study is continuing with the Horizons study called “God’s Promise, I Am with You”. All women of the church are invited to join us. We meet on Thursday mornings at 9:30. See Marylou Lynn if you have any questions.

Pumpkin Patch Volunteers Needed

St. Marks’s Episcopal Church, 10 Saint Marks Road, Burlington, will hold their sixth annual Pumpkin Patch event during the month of October. Our church, along with many other churches and civic organizations, has been asked to help with the selling of pumpkins during the month. Our staffing dates are Friday, October 5th and Friday, October 19th. The patch opens at 12 noon and closes at 6pm. We need volunteers to sign up for two hours or more on each day. The hours are 12-2, 2-4 and 4-6pm. Please refer to the sign-up sheet in Fellowship Hall if you can commit to helping out. A percentage of the sale proceeds go to support People Helping People. Please speak to our church coordinator, Ken Dewar, if you have any questions.

Food Pantry Needs
We receive donations for the Food Pantry on the 1st Sunday of each month. The Food Pantry needs donations on a continuing basis. Please consider purchasing some 20 oz. dish detergent, individually wrapped bars of soap or bottles of shampoo. Your help is appreciated. Thank you!

JERICHO WALK
The Burlington Area Clergy 4 Justice (BAC4Justice) is organizing monthly Jericho Walks at the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Offices in Burlington, located in The District next to the Burlington Mall. The purpose is to shed lighton the unjust ways ICE is treating undocumented immigrants and those seeking asylum.

From October-December, we are meeting on the 3rd Tuesday at 1pm (think 3-2-1) for a Jericho Walk. The dates are Oct. 16th, Nov. 20th and Dec. 18th. Please be in touch with Rev. Portillo if you have any questions, otherwise, all are invited to meet at 1000 District Ave. in Burlington to walk, pray, sing and bear witness with us.

Fair Trade Holiday Sale

Save the date and get your Christmas gift list ready! On Saturday, December 8th from 10 – 3, and after church on December 9th, you’ll have the opportunity to do your holiday shopping for a good cause. The Mission Group has invited nine not-for-profit vendors to bring their products for sale here at the church. Possible vendors include Equal Exchange, SERRV, Partners in Just Trade, Fair Trade Winds, and Mayan Hands and a range of products will be available including candles, jewelry, scarves, woodwork, embroidery, coffee, tea, and chocolate.

Proceeds will go to mission programs of the church, in addition to supporting the fair trade vendors and artisans who make the products.

Invite your friends and family, and spread the word! We’d love to see a good turnout for this event and will be looking for volunteers to help during the sale on Saturday. If you would like to help with the Holiday Sale, please contact Jane McIninch.

Disaster Assistance
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) urges your support for those affected by Hurricane Florence. PDA is delivering immediate aid to those impacted by Hurricane Florence on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Initial assessments suggest catastrophic destruction, but the full scope of the damage will not be known for many months.
The storm’s path is cutting across areas still recovering from Hurricane Matthew (2016). While these winds and waters have meant loss and destruction, the work of PDA might become, as the Psalmist says, “a river whose streams make glad the city of God.”
PDA is deploying teams to affected presbyteries to meet with Presbyterian and community leadership to assist in coordinating relief efforts and mucking out homes and churches. After initial needs are addressed, PDA will remain—providing spiritual emotional care and Long Term Recovery to address unmet needs of those impacted. Through your prayerful gifts we draw hope out of the chaos.
The needs for the response will be great. God’s people are once again called on to stand in the “GAP”—Give. Act. Pray.
GIVE: Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR000169 which supports the church’s response to Hurricane Florence. Gifts can be made online, by phone at (800) 872-3283, or by check, which can be mailed to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), PO Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

Merrimack Valley Explosions
WAYS YOU CAN HELP THOSE IMPACTED BY THE GAS FIRES AND EXPLOSIONS IN THE MERRIMACK VALLEY:
Financial Donations:
Essex County Community Foundation Fund has established a dedicated fund to accept monetary donations. Donations are accepted via ECCF.org/lawrenceemergencyfund or by calling 978-777-8876.

Merrimack Valley Chamber Foundation relief fund – Please send checks made out to Merrimack Valley Chamber Foundation, 264 Essex Street, Lawrence, Ma. 01840. Include the Lawrence, Andover, North Andover Disaster Relief Fund in the memo line. 100 percent of donations received will be turned over to the relief fund.
Massachusetts Council of the United Church of Christ has set up a Gas Explosions/Fires Response & Recovery Fund.

All of these funds will go directly to responding in Massachusetts to support our clergy and churches in their own recovery efforts and those in their communities. Funds raised that exceed the amount necessary to respond fully to the gas explosions and fires will be directed towards other emergency-relief and disaster-preparedness efforts in Massachusetts. https://macucc-reg.brtapp.com/YourDonation

United Way and TD Charitable Foundation Greater Lawrence Relief Fund — United Way will make an initial distribution of $50,000 to the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay, Family Services of Merrimack Valley, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, and Lawrence CommunityWorks. To donate, visit: http://unitedwaymassbay.org/lawrencerelief

Autism Awareness

I wear a silver ring on my right hand. It is made up of linked puzzle pieces. The puzzle piece has become a symbol of autism, representing the complexity of autism spectrum disorders. I don’t wear my puzzle piece ring as a reminder of autism, however, I wear it because the linked pieces remind me that each of us, specially loved by God, is unique, and my youngest son, David, is the unique piece that completed our our family’s puzzle. David also happens to have autism.

April is Autism Awareness month, so I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce you to David and share with you some of the aspects of autism spectrum disorders that you may witness when he is at church. The saying goes, when you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. That is, autism reveals itself in myriad ways, and like puzzle pieces, no two individuals on the spectrum are the same. So, the caveat here is that David’s behaviors and the strategies we use with him may not be the same for another individual on the spectrum.

Stimming. David almost never stops moving. Much of David’s non-stop movement during church is “stimming,” or self-stimulatory behavior.

David struggles with regulating sensory input. This means that he sometimes runs, jump, bumps into people and things, and climbs because he is seeking sensory input that he needs to regulate his body. We have techniques we use at home (rolling him up in the blanket, jumping on a trampoline, swinging from the pull up bar) that we can’t do in public. So, you may see me hold him upside down, wrap my arms around him and squeeze, or apply pressure with my hands onto his shoulders. Sometimes this will help settle him. It doesn’t always work, though. If he’s not posing a danger to himself or to others, I will let him move his body the way he needs to re-regulate himself. If his stimming behavior escalates beyond a safe level, then I will remove him.

Sometimes there is too much sensory input. In those cases, you might see David squinting at lights, putting his hands on his ears or covering his head.

Communication. David’s speech has really blossomed over the last year, but he doesn’t always respond verbally. You may see him with an iPad at church. This iPad is his dedicated speech device. It has an app on it that he can use to help him communicate. This is still a developing skill. Please don’t take it personally if he doesn’t speak to you verbally or using his device (or look at you). He usually loves to give high fives, though. And, have no fear, even though he is not responding verbally, he is a sponge soaking up everything around him. He’s always listening.

Scripting. David recites lines from movies he’s seen, songs he’s heard and books he’s read. You may hear this vocalization during church. You might even hear a screech from time to time. He’s not upset. It’s part of the script.

Eloping. It is not unusual for children on the spectrum to elope. While there are many potential reasons for this, David often runs either because he is frustrated or overwhelmed. Please, if you see David running for the door, stop him before he can get outside.

This coming summer, David will receive a highly trained service dog. Among other tasks, the dog will be trained in behavior redirection and scent tracking to find David if he wanders off. We will be bringing the service dog to church with us later this summer. This is really exciting for David, because having the dog will help David access more activities and opportunities. We can’t wait to share this new piece of the puzzle with you all!

If you are interested in learning more about autism spectrum disorders, I recommend the following resources.
National Autism Association www.nationalautismassociation.com
Asperger/Autism Network www.aane.org
The Autistic Brain, by Temple Grandin
Thinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen Year Old Boy with Autism, by Naoki Higashida
Look Me In The Eyes: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robinson
For Kids:
Rules, by Cynthia Lord
Rain, Reign, by Ann M. Martin
Erin McCoy Alarcon, Esq.

We have called a pastor!

All,

Today, in a special congregational meeting, the Presbyterian Church in Burlington, by the unanimous decision of all members there assembled, voted to extend a call to Rev. Trina Portillo to be our new pastor. Everyone welcome our Pastor elect, Trina! Special thanks to Rev. Jane Wilson who acted as guest moderator, and a HUGE thank you to the Pastor Nominating Committee.

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Christmas Eve Service

A Family Tradition with Crèche, Carols and Candlelight
Sunday, December 24 7:00 p.m.

There will be nativity tableaux vivants (or living scenes) featuring young folks in the roles of Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men. Choir and congregation will join in many carols. The service will end with a spreading of candlelight throughout the sanctuary. Pastor Trina will give a brief message. The Christmas Joy Offering will be received. This service is a wonderful way to introduce friends and neighbors to the church – and maybe to make a difference in their lives.