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As we approach the next presidential election, I find myself thinking a lot about the relationship between politics and faith. To me, they feel deeply intertwined, but I am aware that there are many who would prefer if politics never entered the church. Yet, while the legal separation of church and state is crucial to preserve religious freedom, such a separation has never existed within Christianity itself. Whatever your political views, it is hard to argue that Jesus was not political, not to mention the clear connection between religion and government in Old Testament narratives (it is God, after all, who chooses and anoints the kings of Israel). To be sure, Jesus did not engage in politics as a politician; instead, he challenged the political and religious orders of his day, he critiqued and condemned the corrupt practices of government and religion, and he preached a new way of life and faith.

Indeed, few would argue that social justice lies outside of the realm of religion and the church. Yet to pursue social justice without advocating and lobbying for political change is like trying to dig a hole with one arm tied behind your back: you might make progress, but it will be slow and halting. Whether we like it or not, political structures are an inherent part of our world. They support both the just and unjust economic, social and cultural situations we live and work within.

More importantly, to distance ourselves from politics implies that there are arenas in our life in which God is not present. This, I believe, is where spirituality (and religion) is often misunderstood. Too often we hear spirituality used as an excuse to withdraw from the world, to retreat into private prayer and solitude, rejecting all worldly engagement. While retreat and withdrawal are both useful spiritual practices, neither is meant to be done at the cost of our faithful engagement with the world. Rather, they are designed to help us pause so that we might see the world more clearly.

In a 1966 document entitled “The Theological Basis for Christian Social Action,” the Presbyterian Church wrote that “if we bear witness and serve the Lord, then, as a church and as individuals, we have a clear responsibility to concern ourselves with the social and political sphere also. To say nothing and do nothing in this sphere is to deny our own Gospel. It is to say that there are at least some areas in the world and in our own lives where God is not Lord.” Spirituality is not an otherworldly pursuit—it is a faithful engagement with the whole of life. If spirituality is listening for and responding to the movement of the Spirit in our midst, politics is one of the faithful ways in which we respond to the call of the Spirit, working to shape the world in God’s vision. Whatever our political persuasion or convictions, our faith and spirituality impels us to work to bring about God’s vision for our world. I believe that we are called to faithfully engage in politics in our effort to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

Many blessings as you discern how to vote this fall,

Pastor Sarah

"Giving Is Growing: Bloom Where We Are Planted" 2020 Stewardship Campaign

Our Stewardship campaign theme “Giving is Growing” has added a subtitle, “Bloom where we are planted”. Covenant Presbyterian Church is a giving and growing church. Just as each of us grow through our personal giving, so does Covenant - spreading God’s message to its members and throughout the community, giving in ways to enable growth, or “blooming” in our community.
 
We are rooted by the generations of families who have supported and nurtured this congregation throughout its long and storied history, dating back to 1843. Our faith is deep and our legacy continues to grow and bloom. In order to sustain that legacy, Covenant needs adequate financial resources. Covenant relies on pledges and tithes to meet expenses. We do not create a budget and hope the money comes in. Instead, we plan our budget based on the money pledged by our donors. We have a long history of running on a lean budget.
 
This year our Congregation and our lives have been challenged and changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes have included how services are provided, both within the Congregation and without in the community. When COVID-19 required us to stop our in-person meetings, we were quick to adapt using Zoom for worship, committee meetings, youth group and Sunday School and fellowship activities.  Zoom has allowed us to continue an experience of live worship together and our attendance on Sundays is equal to, and sometimes higher, than we would typically expect in person.  For those members who choose not to participate in Zoom, Pastors, Deacons and other church members have reached out and stayed connected.  And, we’ve enjoyed having people be able to join us from all over the U.S. and being able to welcome members who found in-person attendance challenging.  When our Deacons and Session met in August, they reflected on the things we’ve learned about our congregation this year and top among them were the sense of connection our members feel to Covenant, not just the building, but each other.  We’ve been flexible and come to better understand the importance of our faith community in difficult times. 
 
Where does the money go?
Covenant’s budget for 2020 was $329,508, and we anticipate an approximate 4% increase in 2021. The first 10% of the budget is tithed to missions and outreach, and we’ve been able to increase that to 12% in the past few years.  After that allocation, the remainder is spread out over facilities, administrative expenses, committees, and salaries and benefits.
 
Here are a few examples of your gifts at work in 2020:
--Moved online for Zoom worship and all other gatherings. New technology was purchased to make this possible. 
--We confirmed a wonderful class of youth after their year-long study and work with pastors, their families and mentors. 
--We continue to serve Monday Night Meals and at the Tiny Homes Veterans Village, and have also found ways to do contactless pick-ups for donations to the food pantry and Brown Bag Breakfasts for the Hospitality Center. 
-- We purchased a new sound system, which enables quicker and easier control through a tablet. 
-- We added a bucket depot and sign to our popular composting program which has continued through this year.
--We held a seven-week class for 30 members this summer on the topic of Race.
--We’ve continued to reach out to members in need with flowers, meals and cards, and have begun special projects to make sure our children have regular connections with the church.
--We are very close to launching our new website.
--We added a sign to our official Monarch butterfly Waystation.
 
What is tithing?
Tithing is the idea of giving the first 10% of your income to God. Although it is certainly important to also give of our time and talents, tithes are strictly measured in money. Covenant tithes the first 10% of its budget to Mission and Outreach because we view it as our responsibility to give back to God through our work in the community. Tithing can mean giving more than 10%, and sometimes it may mean giving less. Sometimes it means setting a goal for the future, starting small and gradually increasing or growing your gift until you have met that goal. Reaching a goal, much like growing a plant and anticipating it’s blooming, may take time, but it is important to note that every gift is important, and no gift is too small or insignificant.
 
What do we need this year?
This has been an exceptional year with many unforeseeable and challenging events including a worldwide pandemic and loss of jobs for many.  Last year, we asked members to increase their commitment by 10% from 2019 and we were grateful so many were able to meet this request. This allowed us to begin the year with a plan for a balanced budget and we are glad to report that, even given the challenges we have all faced this year, we anticipate ending the year on budget.  For 2021, we are asking you to prayerfully consider increasing your pledge by 4% (our anticipated budget increase) so we may once again have a balanced operating budget.
 
While things are still uncertain, we look forward to 2021 as a year when we will continue to be faithful together, virtually or in-person, doing God’s work together and in our community.  To do this, we are asking the congregation to increase your gift by a minimum of 4% so we may once again have a meaningful operating budget. If all of us prayerfully consider what we can offer, we feel confident that together we can meet the needs and dreams of the faithful budget our trustees will put together.
 
Please prayerfully consider your gift to Covenant this year, and please return your pledge cards on or before Commitment Sunday, October 25.
 
Yours in Christ, The Stewardship Committee (Mary Bohn, Carlton and Leslie Wininger, Steve and Dawn Wolf, Pastor Jenny)

World Communion Sunday, October 4

Please join us for this annual worship service when we celebrate communion with Christians all over the world.  World Communion Sunday reminds us that while there is much that seems to divide us, our Christian faith unites us and brings us together around Christ’s table so that all might receive grace and love in the sacrament of cup and bread, blood and body.

Peace and Global Witness Offering, October 4

The PCUSA Peace & Global Witness Offering goes hand in hand with World Communion Sunday. Through this offering, congregations are encouraged and equipped to find and address the anxiety and discord that is prevalent throughout this broken and sinful world.The peace of Christ belongs to everyone, everywhere. With this offering we support our global siblings and provide nurturing reconciliation.

A gift to the Peace & Global Witness Offering enables the church to promote the Peace of Christ by addressing systems of conflict and injustice across the world. Individual congregations are encouraged to utilize up to 25% of this Offering to connect with the global witness of Christ's peace. Mid councils retain an additional 25% for ministries of peace and reconciliation. The remaining 50% is used by the Presbyterian Mission Agency to advocate for peace and justice in cultures of violence, including our own, through collaborative projects of education and Christian witness.

Due to the pandemic we are giving the offering by the online option this yearClick here to give online.
 
- participate with us -
When we all do a little,
it adds up to a lot.

Session Highlights
October 2020

The Elders met together in September with a busy agenda.  Our first topic was the continued response to the ongoing Coronavirus situation. We hope that you have had a chance to read the Session letter updating our plan to manage through this challenging time. (Click here to read the letter.)

We continue to be attentive to the Church building and grounds. The Facilities Committee and the Caring for Creation Committee have been working diligently to keep things in order. We are grateful for all of their work to maintain the Church building, lawn and gardens, and the composting program. At our meeting, we took action on a number of proposals from our committees, including the purchase of a new tree for the Angels, and the installation of an automatic door opener at the main entry.

We dearly miss the opportunity to worship in person with you, and look forward to the time when we will be able to do so once again.  We are incredibly grateful to our pastors, to Kathy Miller, and to the members of the Congregation. Our outreach to the community continues to grow, and we appreciate all of you who have donated to the food pantry and the Hospitality Center.

Emmert Dose

September 6 was Communion Sunday (always the first Sunday of the month). Here is Emmert Dose showing that he is ready for communion with his wine and Ritz cracker as we commune together apart (via Zoom, in our own homes).

Nominating Work, Boards and Committees

The Nominating Committee is slated to begin their work this month. Composed of four members elected by the congregation plus a deacon, two elders, and a pastor, the Nominating Committee works to identify potential trustees, deacons and elders, as well as members for the Foundation Board. (All other committees are open to anyone who is interested.)

The Nominating Committee works hard to both balance age, gender, and race on all committees and boards as well as match individuals’ gifts and passions with the work that needs to be done. The slate of candidates is proposed and voted on at the Annual Congregational Meeting and Annual Corporation Meeting in January.

If you are interested in serving or know someone who would be well-suited to serve, please be in touch with Pastor Sarah  or Elder Michael Clickner and they will share this information with the Nominating Committee.

Facilities Members Hard at Work

The facilities committee has been busy all during the pandemic, caring for the church building and grounds. Here is a picture of Bob Dean, Randy Eisel, and Chuck Albee after they pulled out all of the overgrown shrubs on the west side of the sanctuary.
Randy, taking a well deserved break during a several hour work day on the church grounds.

Remembrance Sunday, November 1

Though it will look different online, we will still take time in our service to celebrate and remember all of those who have gone before us. In particular, we remember those members of Covenant who have died in the past year. Our worship will include readings and times of silence as well as communion and an opportunity to light candles in remembrance of loved ones who have died.

Adult Spiritual Growth - Movie Conversation

Join Connie Eberly and Sue Gabbey for two evenings in October to watch and discuss the Rob Bell film, “An Introduction to Joy.” The film will be split between the two classes and conversation will be intermixed, so there’s no need to read or watch anything in advance. The two evenings will be different, so please plan on attending both if at all possible.

Wednesday October 21 & 28 @ 7:00-8:15 p.m.

Please RSVP to Kathy Miller if you’re interested in attending (we will cancel if there isn’t enough interest).

Adult Spiritual Growth - Book Conversation

Join Lori Jensen for a conversation about the novel, Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid. Set in present day (minus pandemic) New York City, the book tells the story of a young black nanny who is stopped in an upscale boutique grocery store with the 2-year-old she cares for. What follows is an engaging read about how well-meaning people try to negotiate issues of race and class in our world.

Sunday, November 15 @ 4:00-5:30 p.m

Please RSVP to Kathy Miller if you’re interested in attending (we will cancel if there isn’t enough interest).

Adult Spiritual Growth - More Opportunities

An email with more Adult Spiritual Growth opportunities for 2020-2021 will be arriving in your email inbox soon. We hope you will peruse the options available and decide which might be of interest to you. We’ve scheduled the program year in advance so you will have plenty of time to read books for the book conversations. RSVPs are requested for each event so that we can cancel if there isn’t sufficient interest.

Leighton Palmer

Congratulations to our first winner of our Sunday School Bingo Game – Leighton Palmer! Leighton checked off her Bingo card and got this cute cake as a prize.

Sunday School in October

October 4
All families are invited to participate in making Brown Bag Breakfasts for the Hospitality Center together.  We will stay after worship on Zoom and put together our bags together.  You can purchase the supplies yourself, or let Pastor Jenny know if you’d like someone to drop off the supplies at your house.
October 11
No Sunday School
October 18 and 25
Sunday School class with teachers after worship

Gift Bags for Sunday School Students

Members of our congregation dropped off care packages to our Sunday School youth for the first week of school. They were, of course, well received!!

Youth Group - Sundays at 4:00 p.m. on Zoom

October 4 and 18 
Middle School Youth Group
October 11 and 25 
High School Youth Group

Sunday School Boxes

The Christian Formation Committee filled boxes for the Sunday School students with supplies and fun treats and dropped them off at the families' homes.

Brown Bag Breakfasts

The Brown Bag Breakfasts activity has been a very successful event and adults and children are getting involved.  We need volunteers to make 10 BBBs  (Brown Bag Breakfasts) for the Hospitality Center for two dates in October. They serve breakfast every morning from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Each  brown bag breakfast should consist of the following items:
  1. Granola (bar or small sealed bag)
  2. Hard Boiled egg
  3. Yogurt (cup/individual serving; please provide a plastic spoon) 
  4. Fruit (your choice – apple, orange, banana)
  5. Cheese sticks
  6. Juice (box or pouch)
  7. Homemade items are welcome as long as they are packaged.
  8. Use only boxes or bags that don't need to be returned.
We would like volunteers who would be willing to make 10 (or more) of these brown bag breakfasts at home.  Someone will then come to your house to pick them up and deliver all the bags to the Hospitality Center.  We plan to collect them on Monday, October 5 and 19. Please plan to have the bags ready for pick up at or around 11:00 AM on those days.  Click here to inform Kathy Miller

Veterans Tiny Village Sunday Dinner

Covenant is going to provide dinner for the Veterans living in the Tiny Homes Village on Sunday, October 18.  Due to the Safer at Home order, we will just be dropping the food off, not staying to serve. If you are interested in providing a main course, side, salad, dessert, bread, etc. contact Candy Lively.

Food Pantry - New Needs

The Food Pantry has a high need for the following items right now:
  • Peanut Butter
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Egg noodles
  • SpaghettiOs
  • Soup with meat or potatoes in it
  • Laundry soap
  • Toilet Paper
They do not need any canned vegetables.

If you have items to be picked up, send Kathy Miller an email.

Game night: Name That Tune
Wednesday, October 21, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Come play a fun variety of trivia that will all have to do with music!  There will be music of all kinds of genres!  Please RSVP to Kathy Miller by Monday October 19.

Fellowship:
Men's Breakfast and Women's Breakfast
and Fellowship, Fabrics and Fiber

It's a fine time to talk about Fellowship, the importance of family, and gathering with friends.  With fall upon us, let's think about how we can continue to gather in small groups, and enjoy time with our Covenant Family.
 
The Men's and Women's Breakfasts have started once again.  Bring your plate of eggs, your oatmeal, your toast, and a cup of coffee or tea and join us for some breakfast chatter:
 
Men's Breakfast:  8 am, the first Wednesday of the month (October 7)
 
Women's Breakfast: 9 am, the second Wednesday of the month (October 14)
 
The Fellowship, Fabric, and Fibers group will meet on the first and third Thursday of each month, beginning at 6 pm (please note the time change).  (October 1 and 15) Grab your projects for show and tell, get suggestions and tips from other stitchers, quilters, card makers, knitters, gluers, painters, colorers, and sitters.  We 'open the door' at 6, and hope you will drop in when you are ready.
 
Don't stay home alone when you can stay home together.  Until we can meet in person, lets make the most of these times together.

News of the Church Household

Update about the Directory - Request for Photos
We will not be printing a photo directory for 2021-2022, and we will not be taking photos this time. Kathy Miller recently sent a link to a .pdf of the directory. Anyone wanting an updated photo in the directory (especially nice when there are young children since they grow so fast), please send a new photo by email to Kathy Miller. When the new website is live it will have the photo directory (kept up-to-date) accessible with a password for our congregation.

Our Sympathy
....to Judy and Eddy Huffman on the death of Judy's sister, Linda Helleson, on September 1, 2020, in Hilo, Hawaii.

Changes of Address
Heather Laing
878 W Lill Avenue, Unit 3
Chicago IL 60614-2374

Erin Lewis
802 Garfield Road, Apt K303
Airway Heights WA 99001-9107

Beth Zimmerman
1889 Denver Drive, Unit 88
Dubuque IA 52003-6708

Letter of Thanks
“Thank you for your generous donation of $1,000 to contribute to the repairs of our leaky roof at the LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin.  This gift helps us sustain our building for future programs, events and services we offer at the Center.  We have been impacted, like so many Centers across the globe, and we are grateful for your timely support.  Thank you for all you do, every day, to make Racine strong and vibrant.  It is truly a gift to be able to partner with a faith-based organization, like Covenant Presbyterian Church, who believe in and support the LGBTQ+ community.  We wish you all the best, Barbara Farrar, Executive Director.”

Looking Towards November
Daylight Saving Time Ends on Sunday, November 1.
 
Thank you for this Beautiful Rock from an anonymous giver!  I love it. --Kathy Miller
Copyright © 2020 Covenant Presbyterian Church, All rights reserved.


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