A big thank you to Rev. Diane Langworthy at United Church of Christ, New Smyrna Beach, for sharing this Lenten devotion:
Devotion in the time of Lent and Coronavirus
March 26, 2020
Today’s reading from Deuteronomy includes the ten commandments. Before a single commandment is offered God is quoted as introducing the subject of commandments with the statement, “I am the Lord your God Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Remember, yesterday we talked about remembering being the first step in a way back to God if we have started to stray? Remembering is key to staying the course when we are on the right track, too. God introduces the ten commandments with a powerful reminder that God is the one Who frees God’s people. God showed the Hebrews a way to escape bondage. Before the commandments are given, God asks that they remember this. God’s commands are not intended to tie us up. They are a way of life for folks who want to live free!
There are many ways we can feel enslaved today even if we’ve never been to Egypt. Some of us have experienced childhood abuse. Some of us wrestle with anxiety. Sometimes we are so tied up in self-consciousness that we have never felt free to explore our own gifts. Sometimes we are so busy judging ourselves and our shortcomings we never dare to answer our true calling. Sometimes we wrestle with too much anger. Sometimes we are so depressed we can’t take that next step. Sometimes substances have enslaved us. Sometimes a bad relationship ties us in knots. There are lots of Egypts in our lives. Before we try to do anything that God asks, God says, “Remember I am the Lord your God Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” For the worst of our bondage today, our God is still the God who leads us out of enslavement. Our God is the God of people who live free! As we read the commandments, we may recall little sayings we’ve heard (like a sign I have in my church office) ... “God gave us ten commandments, not ten suggestions.” God means for us to find a way to keep these boundaries. Free people always keep healthy boundaries.
The last sentence of our Gospel reading today, Luke 7:35 is near the heart of Jesus’ message, “But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” This understanding is critical for maintaining healthy boundaries and living free. In short, we cannot truly love one another until we understand what He was driving at. Jesus calls people on the ways they judge one another, and this is seriously interfering with their ability to recognize the Messiah when He is standing right there. He points out that “John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’” ... then Jesus says the part about all of Wisdom’s children. The point is, there are a LOT of different ways to live a healthy life. And both an aesthetic out in the desert fasting and never touching a drop of alcohol and Christ, Who never missed a good party and even made wine when it ran short, both were a part of God’s plan to reach each and every person. There is a way to move closer to God through fasting and self-denial. There is a way through joining a celebration. We are really different people with really different life stories, but we are all precious in the sight of God.
God creates a child of Wisdom in each one of us, when we dare to be freed. So many ways of being can be healing or harmful depending on our own personalities, gifts, weaknesses and life journey so far. In our Gospel lesson today, Jesus invites us to quit deciding WE are the arbiters of other people’s responses to God. We can only know how God moves our heart and what choices God calls us to escape and where God calls us to venture in. Wisdom has a bazillion children. May God continue to strengthen each of us for nurturing, not judging, one another’s calls and ways of growing in the Spirit.
Jesus says, don’t be childish, assuming YOU are in charge of the feelings and responses of others. “...calling out to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not cry’” In this time of self-quarantine and not nearly enough hugs and hanging out with friends, let’s keep checking in on one another, mindful that different things will be a challenge for different people. Different sources of strength will hold us. Let’s ask and listen and let’s hold off on judging, because, clearly, we’ve been wrong before. Nevertheless, by God (really, right beside God!) each of us is a wise child walking to our freedom!
"No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are always welcome here!"
The congregation of New Church Family voted unanimously to suspend church services and social events for at least a month, pending further crowd-control guidance from the federal government.
The decision came after the U.S Centers for Disease Control urged Americans to avoid congregating in group any larger than 10 in order to slow the spread of highly contagious coronovirus, Earlier, the CDC had been recommending a crowd limit of 25 to control the epidemic.
Board President Dennis Brooks said the church will continue conducting outreach, using our web site, our Facebook Group page and email, as well as traditional contacts by telephone. The church telephone, 386-527-5952, remains in operation, and its Word Up newsletter will continue publishing. We encourage members to share their prayer requests, music videos inspirational essays and community news.
We also ask members to mail their tithes to the church regularly (or use Pay Pal) so we can continue to meet building expenses -- utilities, insurance, alarm system and the like. April 5 is the next First Sunday monthly collection to support our Benevolence Fund.
VOLUSIA-FLAGLER RAINBOW ALLIANCE
2020-2021 Scholarship Application
INTRODUCTION—The Volusia-Flagler Rainbow Alliance, a GLBTQ service group, is pleased to offer scholarships for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students attending or planning to attend a college, university, or post-secondary vocational program between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. The purpose of these scholarships is to promote and support the GLBTQ community in Volusia and Flagler counties and encourage leadership. It is expected that one or more grants in the $500-$1000 range will be awarded. The grants, made payable to the educational institution, may be spent on tuition, campus room and board, books or supplies. An applicant must be nominated (See item 1, below). Recipients will be chosen by the Alliance’s Scholarship Committee on the basis of academic achievement, financial need, and service to the Volusia-Flagler GLBTQ community. Preference will be given to applicants who are enrolled in a college, university or vocational school within Volusia or Flagler counties.
A complete application—typed, computer-printed, or hand-printed legibly in ink—should be mailed to Volusia-Flagler Rainbow Alliance, Attn: Scholarships, 3520 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL. 32124 no later than APRIL 1, 2020. Extra sheets may be attached for questions 13-16; be sure that your name appears on each sheet and that each response is numbered to match the corresponding question. The Rainbow Alliance may reject incomplete applications and applications not received by the deadline. Please retain a copy for your own records. Applicants must accept or decline an award by June 30, 2019.
1. Name and contact information (e-mail or telephone number) for the nominator:
NOTE: The applicant must be nominated. The nominator can be a faculty member, school official, counselor, adviser, officer of a school club or community organization, clergy person, employer, a neighbor, or someone else who knows the applicant well— but not a spouse, partner, parent, or other relative. The nominator is to provide a brief note (100 words maximum) telling: a) why the individual is being nominated, b) providing information to support or clarify the application and c) confirming that the applicant identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The nomination can be included with the application or mailed separately to the Scholarship Committee by the APRIL 1 deadline:
2. Full legal name of the applicant:
3. Gender or transgender identity:
4. Date of birth:
5. Last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number (for ID verification only; this data will be kept confidential):
6. Citizenship (If not a U.S. citizen, copies of legal documents for residing in the U.S. are to be included: visa, green card, student visa, etc.):
7. Permanent legal address: (street)
(city) (state) (Zip) (nation)
8. Current mailing address (only if different from above):
9. Telephone number(s):
10. E-mail address:
11. Submit an official copy of a current transcript, or ask his/her school to submit a transcript to the Committee.
12. Attach a copy of the applicant’s federal application for financial aid.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND SERVICE:
13. List up to five academic or service prizes, scholarships, or other forms of recognition you have received in high school or college, or for community work. Briefly describe the award. (Examples: National Honor Society member; Dean’s List for four semesters; varsity letter in football ):
14. List and give brief details for up to five of the applicant’s most significant extracurricular activities and/or examples of volunteer service (Examples: Charity projects, church work, Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Pride Festival volunteering, etc.):
15. Summarize, in 200 words or fewer, the applicant’s interest in one or more gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender issues or topics. Tell what the applicant has done to become knowledgeable about, and support, an aspect of GLBTQ culture, equality, or justice.
16. State a career goal, at least one personal goal (not work-related), and one goal having to do with the promotion and support of the GLBT community in Volusia and Flagler counties and/or encourage leadership in it that the applicant intends to achieve within the next one to five years. Explain briefly (200 words or fewer) why the goals are important to the applicant.
By signing and dating this application, I affirm that all information in this document is up-to-date and accurate to the best of my knowledge. I give the Rainbow Alliance permission to verify the information, and to use my name in its announcement of the scholarship awards.
Applicants who are under 18 should have this document co-signed by a parent or guardian.
(co-signer) ____________________________________ (date) __________
BOOK REVIEW – “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgon’s Journey into the Afterlife” by Eben Alexander, M.D. (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
By Tom Brown
At least two dozen books about the afterlife cram my bookshelf, but Dr. Alexander’s book, which I just found at a thrift store last week, is by far the most persuasive. He details the 7 days he spent in a coma with bacterial meningitis, which invaded his brain’s neocortex, an outer layer that controls most higher functions, like speech, memory and consciousness.
During this period, his family and friends held a vigil in his hospital room around the clock, with someone holding his hand at all times. Alexander had what he calls a very deep Near Death Experience, more intense than the fairly common NDEs that occur with cardiac arrest. He lays out the various images he saw or felt in this coma – some nightmarish (feeling buried in muck at earthworm level), others delightful (flying over hills and villages). I won’t give you the spoiler of his peak experience, except to tell you it was NOT the blinding white light found in other NDE testimonies.
The result was that Alexander, formerly a skeptic about an afterlife, became convinced it exists and is more than just a last-minute chemically-induced hallucination as we pass into death. He now is an ardent advocate of prayer and meditation and a co-founder of www.eternea.org, a web site about science and spirituality.
I have ordered a couple of copies of his book for our church library, in case you’d like to peruse it. I will caution you that his book is simply a testimony about an afterlife and unconditional love, not an argument that any particular religion is the one true faith. He says nothing about seeing Jesus (or Moses or Mohammad or Buddha), or his own deceased relatives. Nor does he discuss such theological doctrines as sin, hell, end-times, repentance, salvation, final judgment, free will, or accountability.
The book uses a lot of medical jargon about the brain, but it is explained clearly for the layman. Included is a reading list for dozens of other books about near-death experiences. An unexpected bonus for me was Alexander’s chapter about being an adoptee and how feelings of abandonment weighed him down for years before his biological relatives agreed to meet him.
FOOTNOTE: Dozens of additional reviews of the book -- some positive, others negative -- can be found at www.goodreads.com. If anyone is interested in meeting informally for a God Gab disucssion of the book, speak to Tom and we'll see if we can set up a date.
The congregation of New Church Family will gather at noon Sunday, Feb. 9, for its 2020 Annual Meeting.
Here is the tentative agenda prepared by the board of directors:
1. Call to Order – Opening Prayer
2. Certification of quorum – Need 20% of active membership
3. Acceptance of this Agenda for 2020 Annual Congregational Meeting
4. Acceptance of last year’s Annual Meeting minutes (2/19)
5. Discussion and approval of 2020 Budget ($34,100, down from 2019 spending of $37,707)
6. Election of Board Members for open seats in 2020: To run for the NCF Board of Directors
you must have been a member of NCF for at least 6 months and be willing and able to perform
the job duties presented in the Bylaws. There are three open seats, each with a two-year term.
7. Discussion of Bylaw interpretation of quorum for board meetings
8. Discussion of goals for 2020:
9. Other New Business:
10. Announcement of the Board of Directors election results.
11. Adjournment and Closing Prayer
This meeting is to be followed by a brief Organizational Meeting of the Board of Directors with
the newly elected members in the conference room. The meeting will allow the Board to elect its
officers for the year. The meeting is open to all who wish to attend.
New Church Family Board Meeting Jan. 7, 2020 5 p.m.
1. Call to Order in NCF Conference Room
a. Opening Prayer:
b. Note attendees:
2. Review and Acceptance of Agenda
3. Acceptance of Minutes
4. Pastor’s Report
5. President’s Report
6. Vice President’s Report
7. Treasurer’s Report
a. 2020 Budget BOD approval
8. Building And Grounds Director Report
9. Social Director’s Report
a. NCF Board Of Directors’ Award
b. Donation Letter
10. Old Business
b. Jeff Farance Library Plaque
c. Pastoral Search Committee
d. Renovation of our church marquee.
11. New Business
a. First Step Shelter
b. Appointment of a Director Of Liturgy
c. Game Day schedule for February
e. Notify the congregation of upcoming NCF Annual Meeting
f. Office Hours
12. Agenda Additions from the Floor
a. Pledge Drive
13. Next Meeting Date, Feb 09, 2020
14. Adjournment and prayer
NEW CHURCH FAMILY PASTOR JOB DESCRIPTION
New Church Family, a 50-member independent Christian congregation in Daytona Beach, seeks an LGBTQ-affirming part-time pastor to lead worship, provide pastoral counseling and conduct outreach with a goal of doubling active participation in our church. Position becomes available Feb. 1, 2020. Must be experienced and comfortable in relating to gay, straight and transgender persons from a wide variety of faith backgrounds.
Work week – 20 hours, including 4 to 5 hours at the church on Sunday, other hours to be scheduled at the pastor’s convenience.
Qualifications – College graduate with pastoral training preferred. Ordained or nearing ordination. We will consider candidates from any Christian denomination as well as unaffiliated clergy
Compensation: Negotiable, depending on experience and qualifications. Our board is committed to increasing the pastor’s hours and salary as soon as finances permit. Package includes paid vacation and sick leave. We are an equal opportunity employer
TO APPLY: Contact the church to request an application packet. Submit the packet, plus resume, preaching samples and letter of introduction. All application materials are held in confidence by the search committee during the screening process.
The newest member of New Church Family is Pedro, 9, a needy child living in a village near Fortaleza, Brazil. Since February 2019, our Benevolence Fund has pledged a $36 monthly donation to help ChildFund International support Pedro and his parents and two sisters. If you would like to donate directly to this project, speak with our bookkeeper, Jeff De Young. .
Here is information supplied by ChildFund, which formerly was known as the Christian Children’s Fund:
Pedro, whose full name is Pedro Victor Da Silva Sampaio, lives with his parents, Francisco and Maria, and two sisters about 40 miles northwest of Fortaleza. Their simple home, which the family owns, has mud and stick walls, a dirt floor and a clay-tile roof. It has a bathroom but water must be carried into the house from an artesian well. Francisco works as an assistant bricklayer. The Catholic family receives an allowance of $30 per person per month from the federal government and struggles to make ends meet. Pedro attends a local public school, and his favorite subject is math. His wish is to become a firefighter. He is cheerful and playful, helping his mom by filling bottles with water from the well. He enjoys playing soccer and tag and taking care of his pet dog. In spite of poor living conditions and a meager diet, he is in good health.
We will be sharing periodic updates on Pedro and his family. Check our lobby information table for a photo of Pedro. For information on ChildFund’s programs and finances, go to www.childfund.org.
Members able and willing to do light clean-up chores are encouraged to call Property Manager Bonnie Frazee. Tuesday morings are the best time during the holiday season. Also after service on Sundays. Possible tasks include vacuuming the sanctuary, dustring, mopping trile floors, kitchen patrol and cleaning rest rooms .
We also are looking for people willing to be trained by Bob Austin as techs for our sound board and projector. Join him on a Suinday morning in the rear corner of trhe sanctuary and he will show you the ropes.
New Church Family Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
November 12, 2019
Board Members present: Dennis Brooks; Jerry Corlis; Bonnie “T-Bear” Frazee; Bryan
Guest present: Bob Austin; Tom Brown; Jeff DeYoung.
Call to order: Dennis Brooks, Board President called the meeting to order at 5:13 pm.
Opening Prayer: Opening prayer was given by Dennis Brooks.
Review and Acceptance of Agenda: Motion by Bryan Poaches; second by T-Bear to
accept the Agenda. Motion passed.
Acceptance of Minutes: Bryan Poaches told that his name was misspelled in paragraph
2. Motion by Bryan Poaches; second by T-Bear to accept the amended minutes. Motion
Pastor's Report: The Pastor's Report was passed out. Motion by Jerry Corlis; second by
Bryan Poaches to accept the report. Motion passed.
President's Report: President Brooks reported that he, Rev. Donna Choate, Bonnie
Frazee and Bryan Poaches have been put on all accounts to sign checks and etc. Motion
by Jerry Corlis, second by T-Bear to accept the report. Motion passed.
Vice-President's Report: At this time there was nothing to report.
Treasurer's Report: Treasurer Frazee and Bookkeeper Jeff DeYoung handed out the
Treasurer's Report. The Internal Audit found no discrepancies. Operation Teresa's
Needy Kids will get $700. Budget Committee needs to start meeting and come up with
the budget for 2020 asap. Motion by Jerry Corlis, second by Bryan Poaches to accept the
report. Motion passed.
Building and Grounds Report: Building and Grounds manager Frazee reported she is
getting bids on Peel & Stick and Vinyl signs for the sign out front of Church. Trash
disposal has increased to $75 a month. Motion by Bryan Poaches, second by Jerry Corlis
to accept the report. Motion passed.
Social Director's Report: Director Poaches reported that Church event dates will be
discussed later in the meeting. Motion by T-Bear, second by Jerry Corlis to accept the
report. Motion passed.
Cookbook: The Board will talk to Dave McBride about the status of the cookbook. Tabled until next meeting.
Business Cards and Banner: Dennis Brooks had Business Cards and a Banner and
Yard Sign made and donated to the Church. Motion by Bryan Poaches, second by T-Bear to accept the donation and use them. Motion passed.
Stationary: It was suggested to use the Business Card as the heading for the Stationery.
It will be announced at the Forum on Nov. 17th if anyone would like to do the Stationery
design. If no one wants to then the Board will handle it. Jeff Farance Library Plaque Dedication: T-Bear and Rev. Donna Choate will handle this.
Pastoral Search Committee presents packet: The Pastoral Search Committee
presented the “Employment Packet” to the Board. Salary and etc. was a big discussion.
Motion by Bryan Poaches, second by Jerry Corlis to temporarily accept the packet
pending on everyone going over it and reporting back by November 17th. Motion passed.
Schedule of who will fill in for services after Rev. Donna Choate leaves: It will be
brought up at the Forum on Nov. 17th asking anyone if they would like to fill in.
Tabled till December meeting.
Church Social excursion: Social Director Poaches informed the Board of a Social
excursion to see the musical “The Color Purple” on March 16th
at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach. Tickets will be $25 and Dinner will be $14. They will
start announcing it at the Forum on November 17th and posting it on Facebook page for
anyone wanting to go to see Bryan Poaches.
NCF Board of Directors' Award: Social Director Poaches has a program he is wanting
to start at NCF to award members for their service to NCF. The Congregation can
nominate someone on a form he has for the monthly service award. The Board will then
pick one and they will be given a Certificate and their picture posted on the Bulletin
Board. He also wants a Human Rights Award to be given to someone once a year on
Human Rights Day. This would be a plaque and holding a Continental Breakfast after
service. Bryan Poaches will be the head of these programs. Motion by Jerry Corlis,
second by T-Bear to approve the program. Motion passed.
Renovation of our Church marquee (down by the street): This was talked about
during the Building and Manager's Report. T-Bear to head this.
Upcoming Church events: November 24th – Thanksgiving Dinner after service;
December 1 – Monthly potluck; December 22nd
– Christmas dinner, gift exchange, Hanukkah and Blue Christmas all on that one day; January 19
Th – Church will recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Day and Human Rights Day. Motion by T-Bear, second by Jerry C. to recognize a Local Leader for Human Rights Day in January 2020. Motion passed;
January 19th could possibly be Rev. Donna Choate's last day; March 8th – Women's
History Month recognition.
Location of minutes of last Annual Meeting: Bob Austin showed the Board where the
minutes were stored. Bookcase by front desk.
Budget proposal for next year: T-Bear, Jeff DeYoung and Jerry Corlis will be the
Budget Committee to work on the budget for 2020.
Rainbow Alliance request for a donation: Tom Brown presented a request to the
Board for a donation to the Rainbow Alliance to help with scholarships for LGBTQ
youth. Motion by Bryan Poaches, second by Jerry Corlis to have half of the March Benevolence
Offering given to the Rainbow Alliance. Motion passed.
Agenda Additions from the Floor:
Storm Water Fees: Bookkeeper DeYoung stated that the fee is $512.52 due by
November 30 th . Motion by T-Bear, 2nd by Bryan Poaches to take the fee out of the
Building Fund to pay it before penalties are added. Motion passed.
Donation Letters to be sent out: Bryan Poaches informed the Board that he will be
sending out Donation Letters to several asking for donations to NCF.
Letter from Rev. Alan Austin: Rev. Alan Austin sent a letter to the Board asking that
his membership in NCF be removed. He is starting his own Ministry “He Carries Me
Over Ministries” and according to the By-Laws of that Ministry he cannot belong to
another Church. He informed them that he still will be visiting NCF regularly. Motion
by Bryan Poaches, second by T-Bear to approve removing his membership. Motion
Set meeting date for December: December 10th was set for the next Board Meeting at 5 pm.
Adjourn and closing prayer: Motion by Jerry Corlis, second by T-Bear to adjourn.
Motion passed. Adjourned at 8:00 pm. Closing prayer was given by Dennis Brooks.
A special Congregational Meeting on Sept. 29, 2019 elected Dennis Brooks and Bryan Poaches to fill two vacancies that opened up on the church's board of directors. Dennis, as top vote-getter in a five-way contest, will serve through January 2021; Bryan as runner up will serve through January 2020. Both will be eligible to seek re-election if they wish. Jerry Corlis was elevated from a non-voting member emeritus to a voting board alternate. Also standing for election are Pam Bernabes and Jodi Llewellyn.
In a short board meeting following the congregational meeting, Dennis was designated vice president, while Bryan will be social director.
The congregational meeting drew 19 members out of 37 eligible to cast votes. The new members replace Jeff DeYoung and Bob Austin who resigned in August.