SUNDAY JULY 12, 2020 

ThreeFold Cord Church Service

(Carter-Westminster, Morton Grove, and Niles Community Churches)

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Dear Members and Friends:

It sure is Summer: hot, sticky, and somewhere in Phase Four! But I hope this finds you and your household safe and healthy.

This week we started ‘Summer Worship’ (July and August). The theme for our ThreeFold Cord Summer Virtual Worship is “The Challenge of the Gospel.” Mostly we will be looking at scripture from Matthew that will help us grow more faithfully as a Matthew 25 Community of Faith, which, as you may remember has three main foci: eradicating systematic poverty, dismantling structural racism, and building congregation vitality. Though you can virtually worship any time, we encourage all three congregations to worship at 10:45 a.m. We expect to worship virtually until the end of the Summer, but we do hope to have one outside service in August. More about that soon.

The ThreeFold Cord Churches (Niles Community, Morton Grove Community, and Carter-Westminster United in Skokie are proactively engaged in explorations for our future. Our Niles team is composed of: Pam Foley, Bill Weinman, and Jim Oates. In addition, the sessions of these churches are considering options for pastoral leadership going forward. As you may have heard, Pastor Ken Hockenberry at Carter-Westminster is taking a new full-time position within our presbytery beginning August 1st. This will leave all three churches with interim/transitional pastors. Our sessions are in conversation about if/how/when pastoral leadership could be shared going forward until ‘the’ going forward plan is envisioned and endorsed by all three churches. Stay tuned! (As of this newsletter, Pastor Steve will continue at Niles through August or until another plan is endorsed by our Session.)

Our Niles Session continues to meet and lead through these ‘different days’ of church life. We are very blessed by these leaders: Julie Halley, Jim Lundgren, Jan Anderson, Debbie Oates (Clerk), Don Smith, Pam Foley, and Bill Weinman. Here are some highlights from the July 3rd meeting:

  • Learned from Jan Anderson, Treasurer, that because of your ongoing generous financial stewardship, that we are doing OK. We are funding all our ministries and mission.
  • Heard that there have been some administrative expenses related to the manse: plumbing repairs landscaping improvements.
  • We have prepared for the re-entry of our nesting churches and user groups. Our sanitizing stations will arrive shortly. We have posted our re-entry protocol and provided sanitizing supplies.
  • Learned that several faulty electrical breakers were replaced.
  • Concurred to participate in the 2020 CROP WALK, which will be virtual.
  • The next meeting is scheduled for August 7, 2020.

If you desire additional information regarding the life of Niles Community Church, contact the Clerk of Session, Debbie Oates; or Pastor Steve.

BEING CONNECTED! I have been reading Well Being: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter. It is based on multiple people surveys, many done by the Gallup organization. Social Wellbeing is one of these essential elements. Harvard researcher, Nicholas Christakis, summarizes: “People are embedded in social networks and the health and wellbeing of one person affects the health and wellbeing of others….human happiness is not merely the province of isolated individuals.” One of my major concerns during these COVID-19 stay-at-home-days is the social and spiritual impact of isolation and separation. I envision the Passing of the Peace at Niles Church when everyone ‘glopped’ into the center aisle saying: “May the peace of Christ be with you; and also, with you.” But what was really being expressed was that “I care about you; and you care about me.” These are moments of spiritual and social wellbeing. We were created by God to be connected. I encourage you to reach out to as many of your church friends, neighbors and family – as often as you can to let them know that you care about them. The Apostle Paul writes about this to his spiritual friends in Thessalonica: “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Caring for each other is something that these “covid days’ cannot take away from us.

BEING CONNECTED BY ZOOM. Please give our ZOOM gatherings a try or two. Connect by using your computer, tablet or smart phone, or call-in with any phone. In addition to worship, we are gathering for our “Happy/Fellowship Time” on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and for WORD-SHARE-PRAYER (a simple look at scripture with a time to share joys and concerns) on Saturday mornings at 11:00 a.m. Look on this page for the links for all of these times of caring and connecting.

I continue to pray that you stay smart, stay strong, stay patient, grow your faith, stay connected, and wash your hands (and when you do, pray for someone). In God’s grace and love,

Pastor Steve P