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Ongoing Response to COVID-19

Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-18

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Thursday June 18th 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
This from Jeannie Snoeyink:                        
“In our reading for Our Classic book study tomorrow, there’s a very apt lesson for all of us that I’d like to share with you appropriate to issues of today in society.  You have probably read this already from Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey. The title of the lesson is: Toward a Nonjudgemental Life.

“(From Nouwen:) One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without prejudices. Sometimes we aren’t even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different from us in color, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle as equals, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thoughts, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our prejudices are still there. 

“Strangers, people different from us, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being “other.”  Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at “ those other persons” as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in humanity is an expression of the immense richness of God’s heart. Then the need to pre-judge people can gradually disappear.”

If you are interested in joining Jeannie Snoeyink and other saints in the Classic Book Club, please be in touch with Jeannie: jeannie.snoeyink@gmail.com
 
Thanks, Jeannie.
 
* * *
 
NEWS:
 
Jazz Night on last night’s congregational ZOOM…wasn’t that fun? The Matthew Storie Quartet rocked it. Matthew really is great. Eventually, we’ll hear him in our sanctuary again. Also, we’ll see him at the Iron Post and on campus. There’s a “future” out there without masks and physical distancing. It’s coming. Remember, we are working hard drawing the flock together for prayer, study, and edifying conversation and programming EVERY Wednesday at 7:00. Call it “The Wednesday Night Potluck.”

Friday, Men’s Prayer Team 8:30 am

Please email info@firstpres.church for the link.

* * *
 
Here’s a song I wrote about potlucks for a show I wrote and produced called A Place at the Table with Rev. Jim Freeman.
 
“Potluck”
 
I. Church night is Wednesday Potluck feeding frenzy,
            won’t you belly on up to the buffet line? 
String beans, baked pumpkin Oh, Lord, ain’t it something?  
            Cooked in real butter it’s so fine.
 
Mrs. Brown baked her brownies. 
            Mrs. Jones bought a dozen eclairs.
The lady with the cats brought a casserole or two. 
            It’s made with shrimp and cat hair.
 
II. The program’s a slide show, the Wilsons thought we’d like to know, 
            everything about their trip while they were gone. 
The way they are smiling looks just like they’re lying, 
            Mr. Innis snores while they drone on.
 
But Mrs. Brown baked her brownies. 
            Mrs. Jones bought a dozen eclairs.
And though it feels that this night will never end, 
            Dessert awaits us and we don’t care.
 
III. Someone said food fight and corn found its way into flight.
            It hit Rev. Freeman on the head. 
First there was silence and a few prayers for guidance, 
            Then the young perpetrator was dragged home to bed.  
(Ain’t it aweful is what he said.) Because . . .
 
Mrs. Brown baked her brownies. 
            Troop Master Terrell made his crock pot s’mores. 
Well behaved, polite children are rewarded. 
            And delinquents don’t get theirs.
 
IV.  Yeah, church night is Wednesday potluck feeding frenzy,
            won’t you belly on up to the buffet line? 
String beans, baked pumpkin Oh Lord, ain’t it something? 
            Cooked in real butter it’s so fine.
 
It’s not as good as the movies, 
            and a concert downtown’s got us beat.
But talking with you over coffee and good food 
            makes my circle complete.
 
VI. So, limas and tuna, baked bread and a few of those 
            portobellas sauteed in wine.
You bring your beanies and I’ll bring my weenies
             and we’ll have a very good time.
 
fade—Tofu surprise is sublime—wrapped up in crepes. 
I think that Jell-O is lime—with seedless grapes. 
Even deliquents are fine—we give ‘em lots of breaks. 
God won’t you bless the buffet line!
 
* * *
 
Remember, Spiritual Formation via their Compassion, Peace, & Justice subcommittee hope to make a recommendation for a congregation-wide read for this summer on racism. Also, I’ll begin sharing movies and documentaries with you that might make this intense summer one of learning (and stories). Send me your movie and documentary ideas.
  
* * *
 
HELP! Your Session is in need of two elders to replace sitting elders who had to resign. We need two saints willing to step in to lead our (1) Nurture Committee and (2) Mission Committee. 
 
Please volunteer. Please pray. Please nominate somebody.
 
The nominating committee is:
 
Eric Stickels, chair
 
Greg Cozad (12/31/20)
Judy Hendrickson (12/31/20)
 
Leland Andrews (12/31/21)
Linda Peterson (12/31/21)
 
Bill Stout (12/31/22)
John Seiler (12/31/22)
 
 * * *

Good Word: 
Acts 10:34-35                  “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
 
Let us pray (one more time for this one): 
 
Holy, Dear God,
 
the statue of Robert E. Lee is coming down
and it’s about time. I used to love walking
west on Monument Avenue in Richmond
looking up to him, and J.E.B. Stuart, and
Stonewall Jackson on their magnificent
horses.
 
You walked with me, O God, remember?
We said hello to the flower vendors on
the Boulevard. We wandered into the 
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and 
paused long and looked closely at 
Georgia O’Keefe’s “Light Irises.”
On the way back to campus, we’d eat 
at Bogart’s or the Strawberry Street
Café, feet tired from walking across
all those rounded cobblestones. 
 
Give your people the courage, I pray,
to pull the statues down in every 
town square and university quad
and city hall of all the confederate 
generals and slave owners and 
broken people. 
 
We can remember them in the 
museums that we love. We can 
explore their legacy in their context. 
There, they can still teach us. And 
we can adjust our path so that we 
don’t re-live their mistakes. 
 
You, alone, are worthy to look up to. 
Forgive us our myriad idolatries.
May we leave the pedestals for the 
birds. As we follow their nimble,
glad flight, might we be reminded 
to set our sights higher.
 
Much, much higher.
 
Hear our prayer, 
 
O Most High
 
God.
 
A M E N .
 
(Matt Matthews, who, for eight years, loved traipsing around Richmond, VA)
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-17

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Wednesday June 17th 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
How are you doing? 
 
What are you curious about? 
 
What is growing around you outdoors? Do you sleep with your windows open? Have you been paying attention to sunsets? What about sunrises? Have you watched any good TV lately? What are you doing to grow in your understanding of and fight against racism? (Don’t be silent.) How do you like your steak? Which do you prefer: Pasta or Pizza? What’s your favorite book in the Bible? 
 
I woke up before dawn yesterday. At 4:30, the sky is lightening. To my surprise, the birds were in a frenzy of activity. I guess they were eating breakfast and reading the paper before work. I am not an early riser usually. I got to see a part of the world I usually miss. 
 
My brush with early morning reminded me never to cease being curious. May I suggest that if you are not curious about something, get curious (!).
 
God has filled the world with wonder.
 
Jerry Phillips was a curious soul. This afternoon I got news that he died on Monday of a stroke. 
 
If you knew Jerry, you knew there was nothing he could not build. He crafted wood, bent steel, played Hawaiian slide guitar, built Hawaiian guitars (and guitar stands), had a ginormous train set of several levels that filled three quarters of a room (and ceiling), had a player piano, invented stuff, made nativity sets, and was an avid camper. 
 
Jerry’s life reminds me to be curious about life, to engage in life hands-on, to honor the Creator by making stuff. I will miss my curious friend. 
 
Please think about somebody in your life right now who is alive and well. Call them up. Thank them. Celebrate them. Take them for granted no more. Don’t wait until their funeral to say how swell they were. Tell them now.
 
And if you’re up before dawn tomorrow catching the early worm, tell the birds hello and say a prayer when the sun burns above the horizon. Tell me about it.
 
I’ll be sleeping until 8:00.
 
* * *

From Sarah Laufenberg:  “I wanted to share an update about a Courageous Conversation our church hosted nearly five years ago. In 2015, documentarian Daniel Karslake visited Champaign from Berlin with his executive producer, Michael Leppin, to host a discussion following the viewing of his film, For the Bible Tells Me So. The event was held in our church sanctuary and was very well attended by church and community members. I will enclose three photos from the event.
 
“During the discussion, Daniel shared that he was working on a follow up to his documentary; members of our local community came together the following year for a fundraiser for that film. 
 
“I am so proud to share that his follow up film, For They Know Not What They Do, held its world premiere last Friday (online, of course). It was first seen last spring at the Tribeca Film festival, and has received very positive reviews, including one last week in the New York Times
 
“Due to the amazing support from members of our congregation, I wanted to share how to see the film. Daniel and his team wanted to support independent movie theaters, so have used them for distribution. In two simple steps, you can be watching the movie at your home: 1) choose an independent movie theatre from its list of options. 2) Purchase the film for $10. The movie link will immediately be available to watch the film.  Thanks for helping to spread the word!”

Daniel Karslake at First Pres….
  
* * *

NEWS:
 
It’s Jazz Night on tonight’s congregational ZOOM. Bring your favorite adult beverage (for me that’s a milk shake), and enjoy a few minutes of conversation, then great music by the Matthew Storie Quartet recorded in Westminster Hall. You know I like jazz a lot. The thing I mostly like is watching jazz live. I like watching the musicians pay attention to one another and allow each other to shine. This holy improvisation thrills me and is a great, theological metaphor for the journey of faith.

Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
 
Spiritual Formation via their Compassion, Peace, & Justice subcommittee hope to make a recommendation for a congregation-wide read for this summer on racism. Also, I’ll begin sharing movies and documentaries with you that might make this intense summer one of learning (and stories). Send me your movie and documentary ideas. 

Compassion, Peace Justice meets Thursday at 11 am
Email info@firstpres.church for the link.

Youth Gathering Thursday at 4 pm
Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
 
* * *
 
Your Session is in need of two elders to replace sitting elders who had to resign. We need two saints willing to step in to lead our (1) Nurture Committee and (2) Mission Committee. 
 
Please volunteer. Please pray. Please nominate somebody.
 
The nominating committee is:
 
Eric Stickels, chair
 
Greg Cozad (12/31/20)
Judy Hendrickson (12/31/20)
 
Leland Andrews (12/31/21)
Linda Peterson (12/31/21)
 
Bill Stout (12/31/22)
John Seiler (12/31/22)
  
* * *
 
Good Word: 
 
James 2:9              
 “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
 
Let us pray: 
 
Holy, Dear God,
 
the statue of Robert E. Lee is coming down
and it’s about time. I used to love walking
west on Monument Avenue in Richmond
looking up to him, and J.E.B. Stuart, and
Stonewall Jackson on their magnificent
horses.
 
You walked with me, O God, remember?
We said hello to the flower vendors on
the Boulevard. We wandered into the 
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and 
paused long and looked closely at 
Georgia O’Keefe’s “Light Irises.”
On the way back to campus, we’d eat 
at Bogart’s or the Strawberry Street
Café, feet tired from walking across
all those rounded cobblestones. 
 
Give your people the courage, I pray,
to pull the statues down in every 
town square and university quad
and city hall of all the confederate 
generals and slave owners and 
broken people. 
 
We can remember them in the 
museums that we love. We can 
explore their legacy in their context. 
There, they can still teach us. And 
we can adjust our path so that we 
don’t re-live their mistakes. 
 
You, alone, are worthy to look up to. 
Forgive us our myriad idolatries.
May we leave the pedestals for the 
birds. As we follow their nimble,
glad flight, might we be reminded 
to set our sights higher.
 
Much, much higher.
 
Hear our prayer, 
 
O Most High
 
God.
  
A M E N .
 
(Matt Matthews, who loved traipsing around
Richmond, VA)
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-16

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News:

Education is the Path to Peace on Wednesdays 1:30 pm

Email info@firstpres.church for the Zoom link.

Our congregational ZOOM on Wednesdays is an oasis. Come and see. Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Last week, Tracy Dace joined us as we explored the topic of race. (Thanks, Tracy.)

Email info@firstpres.church for the Zoom link.
 
 
 
   
                                                       

                                                                   The Heart of Mission
                                                                          June 16, 2020
 
                                                                  

This season in the church year is sometimes called the Season of Pentecost and sometimes Ordinary Time. Reading through the lectionary texts of Scripture we look at the work of God’s Spirit as it works in the lives of God’s people. Don’t the new banners in worship show the refining power of God’s Spirit which will bring us to peace?
 
At our Wednesday night zoom prayer service last week, I shared a prayer. For those of you who missed our service, I wanted to share it with you. Here is some background:
 
Tracy Dace, Director of DREAAM, was invited, as a member of the PC(USA) Educate a Child Committee, to contribute to 180 days of Prayer leading up to the 224th General Assembly.  How the prayer came to be written was that I asked John Mark things he wanted God to give the DREAAM boys:
 
Stable family with enough resources
Big enough house
Personal space
Chance
Reliable technology
Food every day
Every meal
Good job with parents
Time with parents
Ability to  meet basic need society
Safety to be a kid without worrying for safety
Verbally or physically
Stability
To have the same chance as other kids do – institutional racism
To have a safe place to fail and be themselves. They are under intense pressure to fit in.

With his list and a reading of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 71, this prayer emerged and I shared it with Tracy:
          Come near, O God. Bring us into your heart. Fill us with hope. Do not disappoint us.

          We are young. Our life should have no bounds. We want to live long in the world you have created. Much is at stake as we step into life’s tangled web of decisions, past and present, not of our own making, warp and woof that limit your vision for us. Clear the way for us to flourish and grow and have our being in you. To be, O God, is what we seek. Give us safe space, time with parents who love, food to nourish, a chance to fail and be forgiven, and opportunities to grow tall as your children.  Bring us into your heart, a place to call home.

          We are exuberant. Joy bubbles deep from within connecting heart to heart. Unbridled it bears the pain of living in a world both unpredictable and fantastic. It is so hard to sit still and know that you are God when every new wonder leads us to another place. Ground us in values that will make us solid. Give us mentors to guide us. Keep our reckless spirits from eroding our health. Put before us choices that will benefit not just a few. Hear us sing our loud chorus from the highest mountain to the deepest valley. Bring us into your heart, a place of life.
 
          We are curious. We seek to understand and to solve. Basic math and story blocks build solutions for future pandemics. Grid and compound, biology and microcomputer are our toys for this day and time. Give us resources to discover our gifts. Give us freedom to contribute. Play with us that all might enjoy you and your awesome world. Bring us into your heart, a future with your people (and DREAAMERS). In Christ’s name, Amen.
 
As we begin to venture out while still social distancing, remember to love your neighbor in all you say and do.

Peace,
Rachel Matthews,
Temporary Mission Coordinator

Announcements: 

Matthew 25 congregations (First Presbyterian Church Champaign is one) were commissioned recently in a zoom service. We were introduced to the PC(USA) Mission Engagement and Support team who is ready to assist us as we deepen our engagement in mission. They can provide mission resources, answer questions, or visit our congregation as determine where we want to make the greatest impact. Our Mission Engagement Advisor from Synod of Lincoln Trails is Chris Roseland.

Canteen Run has been doing a lot of food preparing and delivery at the Douglas Center recently. They are asking for clothing donations now: What we need is shirts, it doesn’t make a difference of it is a sweater or a sweatshirt or a short sleeve polo or a t-shirt and medium boxer briefs. We can be reached at: cucanteenrun@gmail.com, or a Facebook page, (please like us), or Twitter at Barb Davies@ cucanteenrun.
 
CU at Home has some fantastic news. I am sharing the entirety of a recent letter:
 
        Men’s and Women’s Emergency Shelter Update!!!
        On Behalf of the C-U at Home
        Board of Directors and Staff:

Wow, the past two months have brought us chaos beyond belief, and if you’re anything like me, you
could use some encouragement. Well, you’re about to get it!
 
Recently, we have had some major service expansions as we continue to fill gaps for those in need. 
To support our friends without an address during this COVID-19 pandemic, we have expanded our
hours at the Phoenix Daytime Drop-in Center on three separate occasions! We are currently operating
that resource at 54 hours/week — an increase from our normal 20 hours/week.
 
We had also planned to close the men’s winter emergency shelter (and the women’s winter
emergency shelter run by Austin’s Place) on April 15th. We would then reopen in the fall as we
committed to year-round shelter being open by November 1,   2020. Due to COVID-19, we had
already extended those seasons until April 30th,   and then May 15th, and then May 30th, and
then June 14th.

Drumroll please…after much prayer and consideration of the current resource   climate, we at C-U at
Home (in partnership with our friends at Austin’s Place), have decided to go “ALL-IN” and keep the
shelter open through the summer, fall, and beyond! AHHHHHHHHHH!!! During this uncertain time,
our friends need us more than ever, so we are committing to continue to provide these vital services.
 
I’ve said it many times before: We can have a plan, and God has a better one.  Our plan was to have
the year-round shelter open by November 1st, 2020   at the latest. We are honored to be able to make
that dream a reality much sooner than we originally planned!

 As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving pieces with this endeavor, and we are working hard
to have our finalized plan in place over the next several days. For now,   I will leave you with a few
takeaways.
 
First, it can seem that our world is out of control, but I promise you that we have a   BIG God who
still has everything under control. We just have to trust and be obedient when He lays a calling on
our hearts. Through this shelter initiative and our other vital services, we are doing just that.

Second, to our prayer warriors out there, “THANK YOU!” and please continue to pray! Pray for your
family, your community, those in need, and our staff: pray for our President, our Governor, and our
local leaders as well. And please prayerfully consider how you can get more involved! Whether it’s
with your time, talents, or treasures, you can help support this year-round shelter initiative! 
 
Stepping “all-in” to this year-round endeavor is also a huge step of faith, but we have been blessed
with wonderful community support! To make this resource sustainable, now and in the future, we are
still looking for 600 churches,   individuals,  families, or businesses to join our “Hope Givers” monthly
giving team and get involved at $40/month. That amount of support from that   many  people would
FULLY fund both emergency shelters…year-round! 

For $40/month, you can ensure John will have a warm (or cool), dry, safe place to stay at night.
For $40/month, you can provide April a glimmer of hope, something she hasn’t had for years. For
just $40/month, you can be a part of that moment when Rich comes to us and says, “Thank you
for being there for me. I don’t know   where I would be without you!” 

If you are interested in supporting this shelter initiative, please don’t hesitate to contact me via
email at “rob@cuathome.us” or you can visit our website “www.cuathome.us” and click the big
red “DONATE” button on our homepage!.

From the bottom of my heart, “Thank YOU!” for your prayers and support! We know we couldn’t
stand in the trenches and continue to fill gaps in our community without your generosity and love.

Be blessed, stay safe, and above all, thank you for putting your trust in us to serve our friends
without an address! 
 
           In His service,
           Rob Dalhaus III
           Executive Director, C-U at Home

——- 
 Also, we join in with CU at Home’s weekly prayer and praise list:

Prayer
          Would you join us in prayer for a friend who recently lost her newborn daughter? Pray that God would bring comfort through this incomprehensibly emotional time. 
          Please pray for two of our female friends without an address who continue to struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues. Both women have seen success and failure and we pray they would find more successes soon! 
        Would you also pray for the C-U at Work program and all those involved in that resource? That program has expanded to four days a week and is now also working at Prosperity Gardens here in Champaign!
 
Praises
        Thank you, God, for the family in our family house who will be moving into permanent housing in the next three weeks! 
        Praise the Lord for our amazing Housing and Outreach Assistant, Bruno, whose last day was Monday. As he takes the next step in his professional journey, we thank God for his passion, his spirit, and his desire to serve with the love and compassion of Jesus! 
        Praise to Jesus for the men’s and women’s emergency shelters who have welcomed over 430 men and women through their doors during this shelter season! 

Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan has some news. Cases of COVID 19 are rising rapidly. This is partly because of the mindsets of people, packed market places, and partly because of large crowds gathering from the recent Eid. PEB has been cooking and delivering food to students and families to their doorsteps. This has been a scary situation for PEB who is actively involved in their student’s lives. Hospitals in Pakistan are not prepared. Here is a video link for PEB students singing Psalm 136:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WielRhtywIA&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR04sVhpCq5lQJIRAbVejRCwcFhkxx-4mUM7MBMW5vztKCAx5VEB10Irj44

Presbytery news: At the recent Presbytery meeting of the Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois, Camp Carew was formally transferred to Kemmerer Village. Summer Church camp will continue to happen; this summer online. And, Kemmerer Village will be able to use this beautiful space as part of their ministry to young people!
 
Frontera de Cristo’s “Coffee, Conversation and Compassion” –
            Email “conversation” to office@fronteradecristo.org to get the Zoom info
            June 11:  PCUSA Mission Co-workers Miriam Maldonado and Mark Adams: Borders as Places of
                 Encounter
            June 18:  Visit with the Women’s Co-operative at DouglaPrieta Trabaja
            June 25:  CAME Anniversary (Centro de Atención al Migrante “Exodus” / “Exodus” Migrant
                 Assistance Center)
 
Mission around the town with friends of FPCC:
 
CU FAIR has changed its name. CU FAIR is now Immigration Services of Champaign-Urbana or I SERV CU. Bob and Claudia Kirby attended CU FAIR’s general assembly zoom meeting last week where new board and officers were elected, budget approved, the past year was reviewed and a new organizational name adopted. First Pres was prominently listed among church partners. Dr. Amanda Harris Gray is a  talented president and she has a talented board. 
 
International Friends: University of Illinois International Hospitality Committee has said there will be several thousand International students here in Champaign in August rather than the 13,000 here last August. Nevertheless, IHC is gearing up for small groups and welcoming students at the August registration table. Let us keep international students in our prayers as they prepare to come in the Fall. If you are interested in being an International Friend, you can contact Bill Erickson from International Friendships, Inc. UIUC (217) 621-3846
——-
Let us keep all our mission partners in our prayers, those who are waiting to go back to their place of ministry and those who are able to work where they are. Listen for God’s call to you in their ministry.
 
Our PC(USA) Mission CoWorkers:
Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar (Mexico)
Farsijanna Adeney-Risakotta (Indonesia)
Jeff and Christi Boyd (Central Africa)
Jo Ella Holman (Caribbean and Cuba)
Bob and Kristi Rice (South Sudan)
 
Our regional and global mission partners:
Kemmerer Village (and Camp Carew)
Lifeline Pilots
Marion Medical Mission
Mission Aviation Fellowship
Opportunity International
Friends of Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan Presbyterian Cuba Partnership
Special Offerings of the PC(USA)
Theological Education Fund
Young Adult Volunteers
 
Here in Champaign – Urbana:
CU Better Together
CU at Home
CANAAN S.A.F.E. HOUSE
CANTEEN RUN
COURAGE CONNECTION
DREAAM
eMPTY TOMB, INC
FAITH IN ACTION
JESUS IS THE WAY PRISON MINISTRY
THE REFUGEE CENTER
RESTORATION URBAN MINISTRY
SALT & LIGHT
 
Here at First Presbyterian Church
FPCC Amateur Preachers
FPCC Environmental Committee working with Faith in Place
FPCC Presbyterian Women
FPCC ESL
FPCC Children, Youth and Families
FPCC Mission Possible/Go and Serve
 
 


             302 W. Church Street
             Champaign, IL 61820
             217-356-7238
             info@firstpres.church

 
   
Attachments:
 
 
 
 
 

 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-15

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Monday June 15th 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
Isn’t Richard Rossi great? He has added so much to our worship experience over the years. 
 
As you know, he’s leaving us to be the Liturgical Music Director/Organist at St. Peter Cathedral in Erie, PA . Five universities, two of which are Catholic, a minor seminary, and five parochial elementary schools are located in the area. This call, he says, is “part of the journey I started a couple years ago when I had returned to the monastery. I believe this is the balance that will bring peace and happiness in my life at this time.”
 
He has two more Sunday’s with us. (I’ve heard his music for those two Sundays, and it’s a delight.) We get to enjoy his offerings for the remainder of June.
 
Wouldn’t it be neat for him to arrive in Erie and find a bunch of snail mail FROM US? Consider writing Richard. You can thank him, you can share an organist joke, you can share a memory (and there are many), you can wish him well, share a prayer, a poem, a quote, a song. Let’s write him! This address should work:
 
Saint Peter Roman Catholic Cathedral
230 West 10th Street
Erie, PA 16501
atten:  Richard Rossi
 
Check out their announcement of Richard’s hire:
https://stpetercathedral.com/2020/05/new-director-of-liturgical-music-announced/
 
NEWS:
Men’s Breakfast Study Tuesdays at 8 am
Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
Our congregational ZOOM on Wednesdays is an oasis. Come and see. Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Last week, Tracy Dace joined us as we explored the topic of race. (Thanks, Tracy.)
Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
 
* * *
 
As I think about racial injustice, police violence against Blacks, and my complicity in a system that needs healing, I am encouraged (and challenged) by the words of Rev. William Barber (that Betty Hollister shared with me): “White folks cause more harm when they act from a sense of urgency. Slow down. Pace yourself so that you’re acting within your own capacity.” 
 
I hold that word in tension with a voice from within me that chastises me for going too slow and being too satisfied with change that’s too gradual. 
 
I am at tug-of-war with myself.
 
What are your thoughts?
  
* * * 
 
Nancy Bell and I have been exchanging emails recently about race. She has been including links to provocative articles written from decidedly white perspectives. (see below). She writes this:
 
“Here’s another informative devo on how we can do life better. We’re wanting to learn how to be part of the solution. I worked most of yesterday trying to summarize the first devo I forwarded to you. Wanting to be authentic on how I presented my assessment, I concluded my interpretation might not fit the current narrative of “it’s all about bad cops”. I follow sports and have read many black athletes’ disturbing stories of their abhorrent treatment and history from bad cops. So, am acknowledging we have an overwhelming problem that needs to be fixed. Have read many articles/books by Ben Carson, Tony Evans, Tim Scott, Tony Dungy, etc and support how they are dedicated to addressing our problem. We have detective/police officers in our family—one of which has been involved in the Chicago police department for many years. We hear his stories and it’s frightening. Thus, our perspective is a bit skewed. 
 
We have discussed judgment in light of Matthew 7:5 and recognize we’re seeing abuse and violence from two different perspectives. It is incumbent for both whites and blacks to listen and act—looking to our, Lord Who commands us to love one another. 
Micah, in 6:8 says it best. He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And, what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.”
 
Nancy Bell finds this link useful as white Christians think about their “white privilege”: 
 
https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/racism/what-does-scripture-say-about-how-to-handle-white-privilege.html
* * *
 
Nancy Bell also shares this from Rick Warren:
 
“The LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.” 2 Chronicles 19:7 (NLT)
 
Our nation is desperate for healing on the topic of race. We’re in a mess, and the Church can’t be silent. The Body of Christ has to talk about it, even though it’s uncomfortable.
 
We can’t ignore racism because, quite simply, God hates it. If God hates racial prejudice, then we should, too.
 
Why does God hate racial prejudice?  
 
1 . ) Racial prejudice questions God’s creation: God could have made us all the same. We could have all looked alike, but God didn’t do that. He loves variety! 
 
2 . ) Racial prejudice is a sign of ignorance: When we demonstrate prejudice, we show the world we don’t know what we’re talking about. We’re revealing our foolishness. The Bible says, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (1 John 2:11 NIV). The Bible says if I hate someone just because that person is different, I’m in the dark — and blind. That’s a pretty serious accusation from God. 
 
3.) Racial prejudice disobeys the Great Commandment. Paul says, “The entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:14-15 NIV). If you display a racist attitude, you’re disobeying the plain truth of this Scripture. We can’t make judgments about another person based on outward appearance and truly love him or her as a brother or sister.
Racial prejudice is a serious sin. 

4 .) Prejudice makes God mad. The Bible says, “If you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker” (James 2:9 TEV). 
 
5 . ) Racism is a problem of sin, not skin. One day we’ll give an account for that sin before God. The important thing to remember as we search our hearts for prejudice and bigotry is that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV). We will only eliminate prejudice as each one of our hearts is transformed by the love of God. He is willing and able to change us.

Good Word: 
 
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
1I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 
 
Let us pray: 
 
Oh God,
            thank you because
goodness is stronger than evil, 
            Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness, 
            life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours, 
            Victory is ours
through you, O God, who loves us.
Victory is ours, 
            Victory is ours
through you, O God, who loves us.
 
(adapt. Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
  
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 
 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-12

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Friday 12 June 2020
 
Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends, 
 
Statement of Hope for the Future
(Driven to Reach Excellence in Academic Achievement for Males)
 
We at DREAAM are saddened by the brutal killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers. Our condolences go out to the Floyd family and especially his six-year-old daughter Gianna. Our thoughts are also with the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other victims of racial violence and injustice by the police.  

We are inspired by the youth of Champaign-Urbana as well as those throughout the country who have risen up to say enough is enough―Black Lives Matter. DREAAM remains hopeful that our collective efforts will tackle and eradicate the persistent problems of police brutality and structural racism such that future generations will benefit from a true democracy. 

DREAAM works every day to address the dehumanization and marginalization that Black boys and young men face in schools and other systems. We empower young people with the opportunities, skills, and amazing experiences to transform their lives and society. We envision a nation where Black boys and young men will be embraced and will experience healing. We seek to create a world where Black people not only matter, but thrive and succeed.
 
* * *
 
Mike Havey noticed this from yesterday’s (June 11) News-Gazette: “The village board [Royal] voted not to allow chickens within village limits during its June meeting.”  I guess they are welcome at any other time.
 
When church reopens for face to face worship, we’ll be limited in the number of people we can host, but there’s not limits to the chickens!
 
* * *
 
See you on Sunday, where you will meet my father.
 
Turn on your “device” and find us at:   FirstPres.Live
 
* * *
 
Pay attention to God’s activity in the world around you.
            Be amazed.
                        Tell somebody.
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 
 
MUSIC FRIDAY
 
Put your hand on your heart:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngFDy52eCZY
 
 
Wade in the Water:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_euSS86dvE