Dear KCC Members and Friends,
Oh what fun we had at the Gingerbread Extravaganza last Saturday! Close to 60 children participated -- a record for this event. They were joined by their enthusiastic parents and grandparents, with all hands on deck to decorate the tiny 'gingerbread' houses with frosting and candy. There were cookies to be decorated in the kitchen, a craft table for decorating treat bags and making Christmas decorations, and Christmas movies complete with popcorn! Santa's sleigh and reindeer were even present in the garden for photos.
All of this could not have happened without the vision and leadership of Linda Salomon. She joined the gingerbread team years ago, working with Sue McCoy and Sue Crockett. Since then she has added her own touches, including an exquisite large-scale gingerbread house -- complete with interior decor, a Christmas tree, and lights -- for the children to decorate. Each year Linda and her helpers begin days in advance, baking cookies to decorate and constructing tiny graham cracker houses (complete with a gingerbread person inside) so that each child can decorate and take home their own house after the event. An army of 'elves' helps with setting up the day before and keeps everything going smoothly during the event -- helping with cookie decoration, replenishing candy and frosting to decorate the houses, handing out goodies at the check-in table, helping with crafts, and running movies and popping popcorn. And then there is the clean up!
Many, many thanks to Linda for her hard work and leadership and to all of the 'elves' whose work makes it happen. Once again, an example of what a special community we have at Kenwood Community Church.
On the calendar--
TOMORROW, December 8, the Board of Deacons will meet at 11 a.m. at Dorothy's home.
THIS SUNDAY, December 11, is the Third Sunday in Advent and we will celebrate regular worship at 10:30 a.m. This is also Second Sunday Potluck. Along with your potluck dish, please remember to bring canned goods and/or gently used clothing for distribution by Sarah Lee and Henry to F.I.S.H. (Friends in Sonoma Helping).
Wednesday, December 14, the KCC Christmas Choir will have rehearsal from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Sanctuary.
Sunday, December 18, is the Fourth Sunday in Advent and we will celebrate regular worship at 10:30 a.m. The KCC Christmas Choir will have rehearsal at 9:45 a.m. The choir will sing their Christmas anthems during the service.
Sunday, December 18, Charlie and Peggy will host an open house at their home from 2-5 p.m.
Wednesday, December 21, Women of the World (WOW) will have their annual Christmas Party at noon in the Fellowship Hall. See article further in this newsletter for details.
Saturday, December 24, is Christmas Eve. We will have a Candlelight Service in the Sanctuary at 5:00 p.m. The KCC Christmas Choir will sing two anthems: "Love Came Down at Christmas" and "This Peaceful Night." Joyce Grabarczyk, harpist, will be Guest Musician.
Sunday, December 25, is Christmas Day and we will not have church services. Regular services will resume on Sunday, January 1.
Wednesday, December 28, the church office will be closed. Notes and News will not be published this week, but will resume the week of January 2.
Happy Birthday to our members and friends with birthdays coming up (or just past):
December 6 - Fran
December 10 - Robin
December 26 - Mark
Other news of the church--
Please remember the following church members and friends in your prayers:
Donna Thompson and family
A prayer for recovery from sickness:
Almighty and merciful God, you are the only source of health and healing; you alone can bring calmness and peace. Grant to us, your children, an awareness of your presence and a strong confidence in you. In our pain, our weariness, and our anxiety, surround us with your care, protect us by your loving might, and permit us once more to enjoy health and strength and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Happening now (or recently)--
From the Moderator
The Gift of Dignity
This last week in the scheduled vacation absence of Marjorie MacLeod, our superb treasurer, I was entrusted with depositing the funds generously contributed by the congregation over the last couple of weeks. Standing insecurely at the bank teller’s window with fistfuls of checks in one hand and cash in the other, I truly felt like a messenger delivering a gift that was far beyond my own reach. And indeed it was.
Just think of the Christmas giving this year from our congregation: the Christmas cards distributed by the Sarah Lee and Henry, the clothing collected by Earla, the pillow case funds generated and donated by the Benevolence Committee, the family giving tree sponsored by WOW, and the Christmas Fund collected in our offering to support retired pastors in need. While the efforts have been multiple, the intent and the impact have been singular, to bring dignity to those in need: to connect them with loved ones, to give them warmth, to provide counsel to those at risk, to provide social services to the vulnerable and a bit of security to those who have committed their lives to serving others.
This, really, is what Christmas is all about.
From the Pastor
My sermons during this Advent season focus on the four traditional themes for each of these four Sundays: Trust, Hope, Joy, and Love. This Sunday the sermon is about Joy.
It is a challenge for me to follow a series like this instead of using the assigned texts for the day. This week, therefore, I'm working on the theme of Joy. As with the other three Advent Sunday themes, Joy is one of those things we know is alive within us when it's happening, but not easy to describe when we are not in the middle of it, stand back, and try to describe what it is.
'This gives me Joy!," we might say, or, 'This makes me joyful." Many things in our lives are best if we simply leave them to work on their own, without trying to describe them. And so, a sermon that talks about Joy is both dull and odd. Experiencing Joy however is neither dull nor odd. Some things, like Joy, are not given to putting them into words. Joy is best experienced; explaining it does very little.
And so this Sunday, my task is to find a way to blend my simple words about Joy with the powerful Joy we experience in the hymns, readings and prayer, architecture and stained glass windows. However, the real Joy on Sunday morning is having others around you from 10:30 to 11:30 who give you more Joy than all the spoken words combined.
I give Joy that you are there, sharing yours with mine on a Sunday morning, as we speak, listen, sing and pray. Having you there in person around me brings Joy to my world.
Bless you all.
I would like to reaffirm grateful thanks to the members and friends of Kenwood Church who helped make the Gingerbread Extravaganza this past Saturday so festive for the children and children of all ages. The event was a joyful success because of the support of the volunteers. Thank you so much for helping to make the holiday event so special.
KCC on YouTube!
Thanks to Linda S., Linda M., Peggy E., we have photos and videos of last weekend's Gingerbread Extravaganza already posted on the website and on YouTube! That's right -- KCC now has a YouTube channel! Look out -- it's sure to be an internet sensation!
Here's the link to the youtube video:
When I went to bed last night, this video -- our first ever on YouTube -- had 7 views. Less than 24 hours later, it's had 36 views. While that may not sound like much, that's actually a 414% increase in the number of people who have seen it and smiled because of it. That's a good thing! Plus, the related blog post now has 4 comments on it. Almost all of our other 150+ posts have none. Yet this post got 4 positive, grateful, joyful reactions overnight. That's an exponential increase in interest and participation. For our small church population and tiny internet audience, it's phenomenal!
I'm so proud of all the sweet people who helped wholeheartedly and sang their hearts out to make it happen for kids and families in our community.
I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did! Bravo, KCC!
A Gift -- and A Fundraiser
Continuing this Sunday... a Christmas gift for every KCC member and friend! Kenwood resident Louis Sclafani has donated his inventory of Thai silk 18”x18” pillow covers in six different Christmas and Holiday designs and colors as a gift and fundraiser for our church. Each household in the congregation can have one free pillow cover with the opportunity to purchase others for a donation. The pillow covers will be available for the congregation and the community this Sunday and next, December 4th and 11th. Louis is advertising them in the Kenwood Press and stating they are available at the church from noon to 2:00PM. Your Benevolence Committee will distribute all donations to local needy causes. Questions? Call Jenny or Linda.
Christmas Benevolence News
In our final appeal of 2016, your Benevolence Committee is once again offering the opportunity for you to contribute to “The Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund.” The funds provide direct financial assistance to individual United Church of Christ retired clergy and lay church employees.
Last year we contributed $579 to this cause and hope to match or exceed that amount this year. In 2015, a total of $1,528,481 was contributed by participating churches. Of that amount 64% went to Pension Supplementation, 19% went to Health Premium Supplementation, 9% went to Christmas "Thank You" gift checks, 4% went to Emergency Grants and 4% went to Administrative Costs.
You can read more about this global charity on our Ministries page. Checks can be written to KCC with “Christmas Fund” on the memo line. We will be receiving this Benevolence on Sunday, December 11th, and we thank you in advance for your generosity!
Christmas Family Update
Thank you all for opening your hearts and making the wishes of our Christmas Family come true. All of the ornaments were taken from the tree. Please remember to return the gifts by December 18, wrapped with the ornament on them. If you did not get a chance to participate in this Christmas project and would like to, we are still accepting money or checks (made out to the Deacon’s Fund, with Christmas Family written on the memo line). You may give these to Dorothy or Peggy. This money will be used to purchase gift cards for food or other necessities the family may need.
With much gratitude,
Dorothy and Peggy
KCC Christmas Choir
Wednesday Rehearsals from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. on December 14.
Ensley's Open House
Mark your calendars now. Charlie and Peggy invite the congregation to their Annual Christmas Open House on Sunday, December 18, 2 to 5 p.m. at their Oakmont home. Yes, there will be homemade egg nog!
Women of the World (WOW) will have their very first retreat next October at Westerbeke Ranch. Fran Threewit has provided the following information on registration and deposits.
October 10 - 11, 2017 (Tues./Wed.)
Day one - 10 am -10 pm
Day two - 8 am- 3am
$248 (see below for deposit information)
At least 10 ladies
lunch and dinner day 1
Breakfast and lunch day 2
In order to get the 2016 prices, Fran has been asked to send a deposit to Westerbeke Ranch by the end of December. Please give her your deposit check for $125 before that date so that we can meet our deposit commitment to reserve space for the retreat. Deposit checks should be made payable to Fran Threewit; she will write one check to Westerbeke Ranch. Final payment won't be due until next October, when we have the retreat.
Checks can be given to Fran at church or mailed to her home.
If you have questions, please let Fran know. Fran wants us to know that church women who can't make it to WOW meetings and are interested are welcome and invited to come to the retreat.
Vist the Westerbeke website to learn more: www.thewesterbekeranch.com
WOW Christmas Party
Ladies, it's that time of year! The Women of the World (WOW) Christmas party will be held on Wednesday, December 21, at noon in the Fellowship Hall. We'll begin with a potluck luncheon -- with so many Christmas goodies -- followed by a gift exchange. You never know who will end up with what. The exchange is lively and lots of fun! Please sign up in the Fellowship Hall and plan to bring your potluck dish and gift to exchange ($15 limit on gifts). Questions? Call Cathy Valerga.
We've received the following invitation from St. Patrick's Episcopal Church:
We have all been affected by this past year's presidential campaign and elections, so St. Patrick's Episcopal Church is hosting an interfaith prayer vigil.
Please join us on December 12 at 6:30 pm as we pray for reconciliation within our nation and healing in our lives.
St. Patrick's Episcopal Church
9000 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA
New Flower Chart Up
The 2017 Flower Chart is posted in the narthex. Sign up for your special dates. You may provide one altar arrangement, or two matching ones. The church has some vases available if needed.
The Upper Room is here
The January-February 2017 issue of The Upper Room has arrived and can be picked up in the Narthex.
Have a wonderful week, and we hope to see you in church soon.