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Regathering Plan and E-news, 6-21-2020

Happy Wednesday, friends!

I am so excited to tell you that the Elders (working with the staff, Trustees, and Deacons) have set a tentative date for us to regather in person for worship. Please read the letter and plan below, and watch out for it in your mailboxes at home, too! 

We know that it will not be the same as it always was, but we can at least come and see one another and enjoy worship together. During these times, we have all been taught to be flexible. The Elders and the staff appreciate your patience and your understanding. Even as we begin to gather again, there could be changes and adjustments. We ask for your continued patience and practice of grace. 

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask an Elder or one of the pastors!

I am so looking forward to seeing folks again (though I may need reminded of your names!). 

In Christ, 
Pastor Derek

FROM DOROTHY BELL….
Hello Church! 
We are hosting another blood drive Monday, July 6 from 1:30-6:30 pm. AS OF TODAY, ALL APPOINTMENT SLOTS HAVE BEEN FILLED. It is likely that cancellations will occur, so keep checking.  An alternative date for Aurora is July 22; its location is not confirmed but will be at The Aurora Inn or in our Fellowship Hall – I will let you know next week. As in May, those who donate will receive temperature checks at the outside North door to Fellowship Hall.  All donors must wear a mask, have a donation appointment, and preferably a Rapid Pass (which I can help you register for if you call me at 330-908-3885).  The only refreshments will be single serve, prepackaged as provided by the Red Cross (no pizza or coffee).  Six feet distancing will be maintained and the Red Cross will be sanitizing equipment and seats between donors.
 
All collected units at this drive will be processed for COVID-19 antibody.  If you succeed in donating a complete unit/pint, your unit will be tested & your results will be available to you in the App or online under your donor login. Here’s the info from the Red Cross:
 
Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19Antibody testing:

  • The COVID-19 antibody test used by the Red Cross is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms.
  • The Red Cross is not testing to diagnose an illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. Individuals who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should not present to donate until they are symptom free for 28 days.
  • The blood donation process will not change — donations will be tested using samples obtained at the time of donation. There will be no charge to donors.
  • Due to the anticipated high demand, appointments are highly encouraged.
  • Donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within 7 to 10 days of their donation through the  Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
  • Donors need to have a successful donation to receive the COVID-19 antibody test results. Per standard donation procedure, only successful donations are sent to our laboratory for testing.

Also there is a promotion at this blood drive. Here are the details from the Red Cross:…All donors who come to donate at your July blood drive will automatically be entered for a chance to win an authentic WONDER WOMAN 1984 movie prop replica package. Items include The Golden Lasso and a pair of Gauntlets, identical to WONDER WOMAN’s from the film.* Plus, they get an exclusive WONDER WOMAN 1984 T-shirt when they come to give July 1-8, while supplies last!**
Visit RedCrossBlood.org/WonderWoman1984 for details.
 
Our May drive units were sent to help patients and their grateful families at:

CLEVELAND CLINIC 
UH CLEVELAND MEDICAL CENTER 
ALLIANCE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL 
AULTMAN HOSPITAL 
CHILDRENS HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER-AKRON

 
Thank you for your prayers and support!  Our next blood drive is scheduled for Labor Day on September 7th.  I hope to see your eyes then!
-Dorothy Bell  

Rev. Horak and Kathleen share their picture (and a little humor), showing that we are here to help! 
GET YOUR SIGN!  Show your support and help us get the word out that…The Church in Aurora is here to help! Email Pastor Derek to get your sign. (We were having problems with the link from last week)
In return, we ask for two things: Consider making a $10 donationConsider taking picture of you and/or your family in front of your sign for us to shareFriends, The Church in Aurora is a strong church with great peopleand one of the things I have loved most about this faith community is that even though we may have differences in our politics or theology, we all have united around helping our community. We dont let our differences hinder our missionso, lets lock arms and continue to stand strong as we commit to serving those who have needs in our community and in the surrounding area.
                                                                                                   — Pastor Derek
 
Because we are The Church in Aurora, we are here to help.
COMMUNITY RELIEF FUND UPDATELast week we served 154 people in 45 households! A volunteer team also packed 100+ lunches for Homeless Hookup CLE, which were distributed in Ravenna. Homeless Hookup CLE takes a mobile unit out to local areas to help the homeless population through food, showers, haircuts, hygiene kits, and Narcan distribution.  The founder, Dean Roff, is a northeast Ohio resident and veteran of the U.S. Navy.  To find out more about Homeless Hookup CLE, click here. 
REMINDERS FROM THE CHURCH OFFICE: The July/Aug Spire is set for production on July 15. Please submit your articles and committee news to Kay by Sunday July 12.EMAIL SCAMS CONTINUE TO BE A PROBLEM FOR ALL OF US.  Please note that  if you receive an email solicitation from a church staff member looking for donations, gift cards, etc., it is one of these scams. Please mark the email as spam in your inbox and block the sender.
We will meet online again this Sunday.  Log on for a few minutes to say “hello” to some of your church family. The Zoom meeting begins at 10:45 am and ends at 11:15 am. 
If you need assistance logging into Zoom, please call Pastor Derek at the church office. He will practice with you anytime Monday-Thursday.

To Join the Zoom Meeting, click here: 
https://zoom.us/j/676788260?pwd=NmtuNFIzcGptd3FzdWp6OGNEbC93Zz09

Meeting ID: 676 788 260
Password: 077836

Weekly E-News, 6-14-2020

Happy Wednesday, friends!

This coming Sunday (6/21), I will have preached as many sermons online than I have in person here at The Church in Aurora. I have literally spent 50% of my time, virtually pastoring the church.

I have to tell you, in a million years, that?s not how I would have expected to begin just three months into my tenure. I think when we all come back, I am going to have to relearn all the names of folks in our church!

What?s been particularly challenging is that with all of us encouraged to stay home and be safe, we have lost a sense of community. We?ve missed out on seeing our friends & family. We?ve missed out on seeing familiar faces in familiar places. We?ve missed out on getting to know folks. I know I have.

This time ? as a new pastor ? is supposed to be filled with getting to know folks; building relationships, earning trust/respect. Instead, we?ve been spending time alone at home or with just a few folks outside of our family circles.

Our news cycles have been filled with updated number and new information or new data about this global health crisis. If it?s not the global health crisis, then it?s been a national (and now international) movement protesting racial injustice in our country and across the world. And, let?s not forget that we are in the middle of an election year!

There is so much stuff creating so much anxiety. I have found that when we are anxious, we are primed to be less willing to seek understanding and way too willing to seek to be understood. We are living in some of the most anxious and divisive times in history.

Everything these days is politicized, demonized, and scrutinized. Most folks in our time have created an identity around what they stand against?that is to say, we form our identities based on polarizing issues.

Even the Church is guilty of this. We divide over theology, politics, or what color of carpet to choose!

Jesus knew this would happen. I have a hunch that is why he prayed this: ?Protect them, Father, by the power of your name ? the name you gave me ? so that they may be one as we are one?I pray?that all may be one?that they may be one as we are one?so that they may be brought to complete unity.? (vv 12, 20,21, 22, 23).

Because unity is the Christian witness?not division.

Most churches around are mostly homogeneous in theology. They all believe the same thing. They are unified by their doctrine.

Our church is unique. We are not homogeneous in theology. We have a diversity of theology at The Church in Aurora. You would think that this would make the work of unity challenging?and I?m sure it does at times.

The thing that unites us here transcends political parties or theological positions. The unifying factor at The Church in Aurora is grace. It?s literally written into our code: ?the members of this church shall have the undisturbed right to follow the word of God according to the dictates of their own consciences.?

This means that we give space for disagreements. It means that we practice grace.

We understand that we don?t have to agree on all things. We don?t have to vote the same or interpret the bible the same. And, we understand that we don?t have to divorce over our differences. We can celebrate them.

During these divided times, The Church in Aurora is uniquely positioned to witness to the community and the world that there is a divine presence equipping and empowering all Christ followers to rise above partisan politics and dogmatic doctrine, in order to live together in peace ? united by our collective desire to practice grace toward all people.

As we seek to live united, let me encourage us with the words of St. Paul from his letter to the Ephesian Church: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:2-6)

In Christ, 
Pastor Derek

We wanted to share something that we are super excited about – a church-wide How Can We Help? Campaign.
 
Through this time of the public health crisis created by the Coronavirus, many folks have lost jobs and have seen a reduction in income. Our church has stepped up, and we will continue to step up to the challenge of meeting needs and helping people in our communities.
We’re asking for your help:
 
Help us get the word out. We have these simple yard signs with our church name, phone number, and one question: How Can We Help? For a $10 donation (which helps cover the cost of the sign), you can place one of these signs in your yard and let folks know we’re here to help! SIGN UP HERE TO GET A SIGN!Do you have a special skill or interest you?re willing to share with folks in need? Can you act as a financial coach? Or, maybe you can offer yourself to repair a vehicle or a home. Perhaps you are an attorney who can help somebody navigate the estate process of their loved one who recently passed. Or, maybe, you’re a good listener, and you’d be willing to sit and listen to folks who want to tell their story. Let us know if you?d be willing to lend us your skill, talent, or interest. Volunteer. Contact Liz Sutter and offer yourself to pack bags, distribute food, or make deliveries.Donate to the Community Relief Fund. You can send a check in or donate online. Just write a memo, letting us know you?re donating to the Community Relief Fund. 
Friends, The Church in Aurora is a strong church with great people; and one of the things I have loved most about this faith community is that even though we may have differences in our politics or theology, we all have united around helping our community. We don’t let our differences hinder our mission, so, let’s lock arms and continue to stand strong as we commit to serving those who have needs in our community and in the surrounding area.
 
Because, here at The Church in Aurora, we?re here to help.
OUTREACH UPDATE
 FOR OUR SENIOR-AGE FRIENDS:
The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) has launched a no-cost phone check-in program for seniors in the state to ensure their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. The free service, called Staying Connected, allows Ohio residents aged 60 or older to register to receive a call from a representative at the ODA every day during an hour of their choosing. To register, seniors must have a landline or mobile phone.
Those registered can provide the phone number of an alternate contact, as well, in case they do not answer. If both the registered senior and the alternate contact fail to answer the call, ODA will work with local, non-emergency officials, primarily Sheriff?s offices, to ensure the senior?s safety.
The service is available from 7 AM to 6 PM seven days a week. Those interested in registering can do so by calling 1-833-ODA-CHAT, or 1-833-632-2428 or by visiting the ODA?s website here.

AND Officer Vickie at the Aurora Police Department asks that we share the following information with you regarding Aurora’s Residential Lock Box Program….

As of today, the Community Relief Fund has provided over 1350 bags of food and supplies to local households! Last Friday we served 149 people from 43 households.


FROM THE CHRISTIAN EDUCATION COMMITTEE…

Rebecca Bliss – Kyla Errington – Reed Fuller
Audrey Gray – Kathleen Horak – Kim Jones – Daryl Koning
Justine Kwaszek – June Lucal – Laura Monroe
April Nenadal – Brent Nenadal – Lisa Perez – Mindy Rogge
Amy Rumskey – Bethany Schmittal – Kelly Sedlak
Mike Sedlak – Dana Shively – Danielle Sprague
Rita Suchanek – Josh Sutter – Alyssa Swiatek
Katie Trook – Josh Williams – Kimberly Williams
Audrey Winkler – Carrie Yasenosky

Weekly E-news, 6-7-2020

One of my favorite devotionals is from a study I led a couple of times: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. The devotion lays out two devotions (morning & evening). It provides a scripture passage, a devotional thought, and a prayer. I was going through the devotional recently, because I am leading this study with some of the staff members. I’d like to share one with you that echoes my sermon last week and gives a glimpse into my sermon this coming Sunday. 

—–

Reading: Mark 10:41-44

Devotional: 
Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom. The disciples kept thinking of the worldly model of power over people rather than Jesus’ model of power under – to serve. 

“It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. 

Jesus asks, ‘Do you love me?’ We ask, ‘Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your kingdom?’ (Mt. 20:21) Ever since the snake said, ‘The day you eat of this tree your eyes will be open and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil,’ (Gen. 3:5) we have been tempted to replace love with power.

Jesus lived that temptation in the most agonizing way from the desert to the cross. The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.” – Henri Nouwen

Question to Consider:
What might be one way you can let go of power and control and, in love, choose to serve someone today?

Prayer:
Father, you know how much I struggle with trying to love some of the difficult people in my life. I find it easier, like the disciples, to exercise control and have power over people. Fill me with your power so that I can choose to serve, in love, the people I encounter this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 1


I hope this has filled your soul and nurtured your spirit as it did mine!

In Christ,
Pastor Derek

1 Scazzero, Peter (2014). Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40-day journey with the Daily Office. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Pages 146-148

As of today, over 1200 bags of food and supplies have been provided to local households!  This Friday marks the 12th week of the program, and 44 households will be served!  This outreach could not have happened without your continued support — your donations of money as well as toiletry items. 

The Sirna and Sons program also helps sustain this program. They offer fresh meats, dairy, fruits, veggies, and more at competitive prices placed in your car touch-free.  Orders can be made weekly with no commitment.  And here’s the best part: 15% of all orders received go to the Aurora Community Relief Fund . You may click here to check out their website and make an online order.  Then all you have to do is pull up to the Leighton Elementary School parking lot on Thursdays 9 – 11:00 am and say your name – your groceries will be put into your car and you drive away!  You can order until 8:00 pm on Tuesdays for pick up the same week.  Any questions?  Call Liz Sutter at 216-570-6394. 
A BIG THANKS is due those of you who are sewing the much-needed masks. The masks are being given to Officer Vickie at the Aurora Police Department. She tells us they can use all we are able to provide. 
The Church in Aurora is looking to hire a part-time Director of Communications. We know that having a strong online presence is important to any organization, and we think we need to enlist some help in this area.

If you are passionate about getting the word out and you’d love to be part of an organization that wants to make a difference, then this position may be a good fit for you.

It does require some:technical savvyrelevant education & experience (marketing, PR, communication, etc.)If you, or someone you know, would be interested in this position you may click here to view the full job description. Resumes should be sent to dhickman@tcia.cc.
Do you or someone you know play guitar? 

We are looking at the possibility of developing an alternative worship style (once we can return safely). To do this, we need folks who can play guitar (preferable) and sing. 

If this is something you would like to help with, email Pastor Derek (dhickman@tcia.cc). 
We will meet online again this Sunday.  Log on for a few minutes to say “hello” to some of your church family. The Zoom meeting begins at 10:45 am and ends at 11:15 am. 
If you need assistance logging into Zoom, please call Pastor Derek at the church office. He will practice with you anytime Monday-Thursday.

To Join the Zoom Meeting, click here: 
https://zoom.us/j/676788260?pwd=NmtuNFIzcGptd3FzdWp6OGNEbC93Zz09

Meeting ID: 676 788 260
Password: 077836

Weekly E-News, 5-31-2020

A link to the June SPIRE is here. In it you will find reflections on prayer from Reed Fuller, a monthly report from our Acting Moderator- Laura Holman, committee reports, and other church activity and member news. It begins with a reprint of Pastor Derek’s May 20 Enews article on being strong and courageous.

Last week the Elders and Pastors sent out a brief survey to our membership asking for your help as they develop a plan that would allow us to meet for in-person worship. You should have received it in your email inbox on Thursday. If you did not, please let the church office know (koxford@tcia.cc), and it will be re-sent.

Finally, as a reminder- any mail being sent to the church should be addressed to 146 S. Chillicothe Rd. Aurora, OH 44202 . Please do not include the former post office box # (The P.O. box is printed in the address on the 2020 giving envelopes.)

Weekly E-News, 5-24-2020

Last week we received so many nice comments about Nancy Brainerd’s watercolor of our church building, we decided to keep using it as our ENEWS header. Thanks again Nancy!!
Friends, 
In this time of uncertainty, as we figure out how we are supposed to live in this new normal, I found this article particularly helpful. I hope you find it helpful, too. 

Blessings,
Pastor Derek
Finding Our New Normal
April 20, 2020 by Susan Beaumont 

Crisis moments call for strong, decisive action—people want to know that someone is in charge and things are being managed. But once the initial crisis calms, a period of disorientation sets in as we find our way to a new normal. The resolute leadership style that worked well during the initial crisis won’t work well in this ongoing unsettled space.

We are in a liminal season, stuck between an ending and a new beginning. The pathway forward is not knowable. The way we “did church” even two months ago is done. We have literally been thrown out of our buildings by a pandemic. We can reassure people (and ourselves) by pretending the disruption is temporary. “We will resume all normal activity soon.” That reassurance is not helpful or truthful.

No one knows what normal looks like after sheltering in place. Likely, we will resume many familiar things, but congregational life will not be the same. We are disoriented and confused. There is grief and loss.

This season requires a different leadership stance. Our actions must originate from a new center—a less busy and more yielding, soulful place. The following five practices can help you lead more effectively as you discover the next, new normal with your congregation.

1. Surrender

To surrender is to yield. We accept this moment as “just the place we need to be” to learn what is most important now. To surrender does not mean giving up or giving in. It does not mean we languish or grow lazy—quite the opposite. It means we lean into the disorientation and trust the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Striving, rather than surrender, was the mood of the first season of this crisis. Striving is the act of working harder and longer to prove mastery, merit and worth. We hoped that our industriousness could protect people from the difficult, adaptive work ahead. Through our own hard work and determination, we figured out how to put church online. We toiled to demonstrate our care for people when we could not be physically present with them. We learned new ways to connect those in need. We’ve done good industrious work.

But now we find ourselves beyond the limits of our own resourcefulness and knowing. This next season requires adaptive learning—for leaders and followers alike. Learning begins with surrender. I acknowledge that I don’t have answers. I yield my spirit to God’s leading and invite my congregation to do the same. We attend to all that arises in response to our surrender.

2. Use the Disorientation

All innovation begins with disorientation. People must let the old status quo fail before we can embrace innovation. We should acknowledge that the status quo failed us some time ago. We’ve been falsely clinging to the old normal because there was too much pain in letting go.

The pandemic has thrown us into deep disorientation. Now, we have no choice but to let go of the old normal. We occupy space on both sides of a threshold. One foot is rooted in something trying to end; another is planted in a thing not yet defined, something waiting to begin. We cling to structures, identities and relationships formed by our old experiences, although we know that those processes and practices will not serve us adequately moving forward.

It would be a mistake to shore up the old structures and practices as things get “back to normal.” We need to take advantage of this moment to let old things die, to experiment, to take risks and learn.

3. Invite Meaning-Making

Humans cannot live without meaning. The greater our sense of uncertainty, the more desperately we grasp for a handhold, a shred of something that reminds us of who we are and where we have been. People need help interpreting the present moment given their shared past.

Part of this work is theological in nature. People grapple with the deep questions of our faith. Where is God when people are suffering? Why are we here? Is God punishing the world? Listen. Sharpen your theological edge and shape the conversations happening around you.

Beyond that, locate this moment in the history of your specific context. When have your people endured a moment reminiscent of this one? What higher values did they bring to that moment? How might those same values guide them now?

4. Define One Good Next Step

People need to know that they are pursuing something that matters now; worthy work, a shared common cause, or a sense of rootedness to something enduring. This is especially important when we can’t plan our next steps in one, three, and five-year increments. Who even knows what tomorrow will bring in this environment?

Systematic planning won’t serve you well in liminality, but you don’t have to wander aimlessly. Help people remember their passions and connect those passions to their gifts and resources. Develop a shared sense of what you are trying to learn together. Then, claim one good next step in the general direction of your shared aspirations.

5. Attend to the Yearning

Rational decision making assumes that human knowledge is enough to address the challenges we face. Rational decisions can’t guide us through the deep disorientation we face now. Instead, we need to pay attention to yearning.

Yearning is the language of the human soul.When we listen to others at soul level, we sense a collective longing that will guide us to the other side of chaos. Letting go of what once was, we let ourselves be led by God who is drawing us forward and into our future.

Discernment is the tool we use to attend the yearning. It’s a wisdom way of knowing. We drop beneath rational decision making, directly into the knowing planted in our souls. Make space in your congregation for this expression of collective yearning. What is God calling us to do or become next?

Our new normal is already with us and it is also just beyond our reach. This is an exciting time to be the church if we are willing to stay in the disorientation for the time it takes to discover our next chapter.

—–

Susan Beaumont is a consultant, coach and spiritual director. Susan is a practical contemplative. She works at the intersection of organizational health and spiritual guidance. Specializing in the unique dynamics of large congregations, Susan’s work focuses on staff team dynamics, board development and leadership in times of transition. Rev. Beaumont is the author of How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going and Inside the Large Congregation. She is co-author of When Moses Meets Aaron.

https://www.congregationalconsulting.org/finding-our-new-normal/

The Church in Aurora is looking to hire a part-time Director of Communications. We know that having a strong online presence is important to any organization, and we think we need to enlist some help in this area.

If you are passionate about getting the word out and you’d love to be part of an organization that wants to make a difference, then this position may be a good fit for you.

It does require some:technical savvyrelevant education & experience (marketing, PR, communication, etc.)If you, or someone you know, would be interested in this position you may click here to view the full job description. Resumes should be sent to dhickman@tcia.cc.
Do you or someone you know play guitar? 

We are looking at the possibility of developing an alternative worship style (once we can return safely). To do this, we need folks who can play guitar (preferable) and sing. 

If this is something you would like to help with, email Pastor Derek (dhickman@tcia.cc). 

Hi parents,
 
Well, I guess summer is upon us!  The end of this school year is definitely different than those in the past.  Hopefully your family can regain some degree of normalcy without the stress of online learning.
 
Summer is a great time to ponder some of the big questions that we all have.  Kids and adults have all sorts of questions about God – Why are we here?  Who is God?  Is everything in the Bible true?  Faith is believing in something even though we have questions.  Sometimes the logistics of the Bible can be confusing in light of what we know about science.  The Bible and science shouldn’t be enemies…they can work together as friends.  God wants us to ask questions and use our brains to learn more about Him and the world around us.
 
This is a great video exploring this topic.  I urge you to watch this together and explore some of the questions that you may have.  A fun activity for the family might be to brainstorm some of your biggest questions for God and write them down.  Here are some examples of questions that some 3rd graders asked of God.  Some of them will put a smile on your face.  Take a picture of some of your questions…I would love to see them.
 
I hope that you all have a great summer.  Take some time to ask some questions with your kids.   
 
God Bless You,
Liz
We will meet online again this Sunday.  Log on for a few minutes to say “hello” to some of your church family. The Zoom meeting begins at 10:45 am and ends at 11:15 am. 
If you need assistance logging into Zoom, please call Pastor Derek at the church office. He will practice with you anytime Monday-Thursday.

To Join the Zoom Meeting, click here: 
https://zoom.us/j/676788260?pwd=NmtuNFIzcGptd3FzdWp6OGNEbC93Zz09

Meeting ID: 676 788 260
Password: 077836
165 people in 48 households were served last week!!  Your orders from Sirna and Sons funded most of the produce and dairy that was included in each family bag.

As a reminder, if you are looking for another way to help, Sirna and Sons offers fresh meats, dairy, fruits, veggies, and more at competitive prices placed in your car touch-free.  Orders can be made weekly with no commitment.  And here’s the best part: 15% of all orders received go to the Aurora Community Relief Fund . You may click here to check out their website and make an online order.  Then all you have to do is pull up to the Leighton Elementary School parking lot on Thursdays 9 – 11:00 am and say your name – your groceries will be put into your car and you drive away!  You can order until 8:00 pm on Tuesdays for pick up the same week.  Any questions?  Call Liz Sutter at 216-570-6394.