First

November 29, 1998


Table of Contents

Emergency Honduran Mission

William Law

The Christmas Concert-by Marilyn Auer

Celebrate Christmas

Planning for a new pictoral directory

Facilities Renewal Plan update

Funeral Planning forms available

Symposium a success

A Word from Lonnie

In Brief

Student Missionaries

Give a Bible for Christmas

Tidbits from Youth Director

#Help for College Seekers

#Pennies from Heaven

#Family notes

 


Houses flooded but spirits undampened

After the recent devastating hurricanes, an emergency mission team was assembled to offer aid and bring necessary medical and other supplies to our Honduran mission. Making plans which changed by the minute due to transportation problems, on only 2 hours sleep, the small group packed and were off. Following are excerpts of the information they have sent back which is posted daily on our web site, www.firstchurchtosa.org.

Why We Go - Lonnie Richardson

The reason we go to Honduras is to honor God by taking action to help a hurt and be part of a solution. Reaching out in the name of the Christ is a witness to the power of God through the local church. The reason we go specifically to San Pedro Sula is because First Congregational Church has had an enduring covenant with our sister congregation and mission, the Iglesia Congregational Cristiana de Honduras for years.

We should remember the words of Jesus in times like these, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:35 -36.)

Tegucigalpa, HN 11/12/98 (D. Hartsuch)

We have arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and have surveyed the devastation of the flooding in this city. As our 757 banked sharply on approach to Tegucigalpa, we caught our first glimpses of the deep scars eroded into the hills rising from this city. We saw areas where landslides left buildings in ruin; rubble where homes once stood.

San Pedro Sula, HN - 11/13/98 (D. Hartsuch)

An army of workers dug feverishly with hand shovels removing the dirt from homes and into the center of the street which was now buried under 10 feet of mud. Students composed the backbone of this workforce, conscripted through a new University requirement that all students must do this "community service work" without pay.

As the bus meandered through the mountainous terrain of Honduras, we partook of this country's rich splendor. Beautiful valleys and mountains, in areas wooded with pine trees. As we got to the lowlands, we saw farms with grazing livestock. In the floodplain, we saw trees uprooted and washed away in the torrent of water. We saw segments of roadway which had been washed away and which were now under repair with heavy equipment, but still barely passable. In one area, we bypassed a bridge which appeared to be damaged in the flooding. (It was at the end of this day that the accompanying saying from The Deerslayer came to mind for David Hartsuch.)

San Pedro Sula - 11/14/98 (D. Hartsuch)

Today, we had our first real clinic in the area of Courago about 15 km. South East of the mission at Rio Hernendez near the area of La Lima. We saw fifty patients in the afternoon under a makeshift shelter with several old weathered benches. Most of our patients were children, most of whom had diarrhea. Many of these children also had Fungal infections of the feet and scalp.

We stopped by a one room building where many displaced families were now living. We started to take pictures, and the children became fascinated with our digital camera where we could take their picture and show it to them right away. I'm sure that many of them had never seen themselves. The children began to swarm around me in order to get a glimpse of themselves.

I began to ask the children what their names were and how old they were. Each child appeared so excited that somebody cared enough to ask. Instantly, they gathered around me as if I was handing out candy; each one wanting nothing more than to get my attention in order to tell me their name, their age or anything else about themselves. An older woman walked out of the mission building and I took her picture. She said to me in Spanish, "I wish that you had a camera when I was wading in water up to my neck."

There were hundreds of people who were living in shanties constructed with plastic garbage bags or any other material which the people might find. Many of the people had gathered green bananas which they were eating. Others were eating sugar cane which was waterlogged or rotting from the heavy rain.

When we arrived at La Lima, we found the entire town completely flooded, its streets clogged with mud. We stopped at the home of the mission's minister, Julio Hernandez. His home was completely flooded and now left with about 2 feet of mud throughout. It was here that we saw people wading barefoot through muddy and flooded streets.

During this time, Tom Jarchow was restoring function to the mission's water pump and storage tank.

Text for and pictures for this article are taken directly from the church's website, (www.firstchurchtosa.org) much more information about the mission is available and updated daily. Also watch the web page for updates of new areas, easier navigation and a new look. More information about our updated site will be in the next Columns. *

"We live in a world of agony and strife. Any words to the opposite certainly cannot be true; but, happily for humanity, glimpses of that pure spirit in whose likeness man has been created can be seen; diminishing our infirmities and relieving if not forgiving our crimes."

from James Fennimore Cooper's,
The Deerslayer*

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William Law ­ A man of principle

 

Unable to interview William Law directly due to his advancing Parkinson's disease, it is still not difficult to learn what is important to Bill Law and the contributions he has made through his life ­ not the least of which are his wife, Mary, of nearly 50 years, four children, and five grandchildren.

William Law managed two tanning businesses; lectured around the world about the economic, legal and ethical bases of free society; fought during World War II at the Battle of the Bulge; founded (along with three others) Brookfield Academy; authored a book about his life and love for liberty; speaks Spanish, German and French; attended no less than 14 institutions of higher learning (yet never obtained his Bachelor's degree). These things distinguished him.

But his love and devotion to family and friends, his passion for liberty, and his unquenchable thirst for knowledge have made Bill Law the respected, loved man that he is.

With the confidence of a man who has experienced a full life, Bill Law tells his life story and educates the reader along the way in his book, Heart of Freedom: A Life­A Love of Liberty. The book which was a 'life-long obsession' of Bill's, is divided into two parts. The first half begins by telling of his childhood, growing up during the Great Depression. Relaying brief stories of his experiences at this time, the importance of family is obvious. In fact, Bill traced his family tree back to learn the history of all eight of his great grandparents (dating back to 1775).

As his story continues, it seems that William Law is a man who let nothing stand in his way. Much of his knowledge was attained for very practical purposes as a means to achieving an end. Spanish, for example, was learned when he was unable to understand many of the employees at his tannery. He obtained his pilot's license to be able to get where he wanted to go. And Brookfield Academy's existence is due, at least in part, to Bill Law's desire for a superior education for his children.

The second half of the book is devoted, primarily to Bill's conclusions on economy and freedom. Strictly conservative, many of Bill's opinions were not embraced by the rather liberal Milwaukee Journal. This, again, would not quiet a man devoted to defending freedom. Sitting on the boards of the Foundation for Economic Education, the Institute for Human Studies, and Citizens for a Sound Economy, Bill gave much of his time, energy, and financial resources to promoting his viewpoint.

"Mr. Law has given his mind, his heart, his talent, and his resources to his principles. I have the highest regard for his philosophy, his principles and his example. If example is the best teacher, Mr. Law is exemplary," said Mary York, a lifetime member of First Congregational Church. Bill Law, who has also been a member of First Church from birth on, counts many close friends among our members. Certainly, a man to be admired for his conviction, we are blessed to enjoy his membership.

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The concert experience from inside the choir

by Marilyn Auer

This year it began on October 8th. The Pilgrim Choir stayed late, the Chancel Choir arrived early, and the rehearsals for the Christmas Concert began. Christmas seems so far in the future, but Lee Jacobi and Betty Dethmers know that, for rehearsal purposes, Christmas is only a deep breath away.

Whenever Lee uses the word "challenging" to describe a piece of music, most of us look around and think, "I hope this isn't too hard," or "I'm glad she (or he) will be standing next to me." Some pieces of music "challenge" the combined choirs right up to the afternoon concert. There have been some uneasy performance moments in the last twenty-five years, but we have always made music.

In the beginning some people mutter about not liking a piece and others complain about not being able to learn a piece, but each week, each rehearsal, the choir gets closer and closer to Lee Jacobi's idea of what the concert should be. The singers get more and more enthusiastic, and occasionally more panicked, as the concert nears.

At some point we all begin to understand where we should be going musically, and singing becomes very exciting. There are also moments of backsliding. A section polished to perfection one week turns into a train wreck the next. It takes concentration on the part of the singers to keep moving forward.

Then, before we're confident and secure, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are in Advent. The Concert is two weeks away. At this point we begin to rehearse the Processional and getting in and out of concert placement. However, the music is the focus, and Lee asks the choir for musical nuance, metrical perfection, and vocal and verbal clarity. Clusters of singers check details of phrases to be sure that everyone is right.

The concert itself seems to come in a rush. The Processional begins the concert, the Bell Choir, and the Combined Choirs each perform. This is the moment of climax. We singers give the best performance in us. We hope the listeners get at least half as much pleasure from hearing the concert as we do in giving it.

This year's Choir Concert will be Sunday December 13 at 3:00. Everyone is welcome to attend. There is no charge.

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Celebrate Christmas

 

Everyone is invited to these wonderful celebrations of the Christmas season!

All-Church Dinner, Wed. Dec. 2, 6:00 The cost is $8.00 for dinner and dessert; $2.00 for dessert alone; and a freewill offering at the Master Singers concert. Prepaid reservations are required. Only open to the first 200 respondents.

Friendly Beast Breakfast,
Sat. Dec. 5, 9:00 am
-

The cost is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. Please purchase tickets in the church office no later than December 3 so we'll have enough food for everyone.

Christmas Workshop, Sunday December 6, 3:00 pm -

Following the workshop there will be a pizza supper, lighting of the outside tree, and caroling. Supper is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children.

The Choir Concert, Sunday, December 13, 4:00 - Everyone is invited to this wonderful celebration of the Christmas season! On Sun., Dec. 13, Circle 7 will host the annual Christmas Tea in Friendship Lounge at 3 p.m. Also between 3 and 4, cookies will be packed to take to those members who are homebound. Bake a batch of cookies for shut-ins and bring it either the week before the Tea or when you come to the morning's worship service.

Following the Tea, organist Betty Dethmers, the Pilgrim and Chancel Choirs, directed by Lee Jacobi and the Handbell Choir, under the direction of Kenneth Olson, will provide a beautiful concert of Christmas music. Join us for this special Christmas gift.

Christmas Eve Services Dec. 24,

4:00, 7:00 & 11:00 p.m.

New Year's Eve Watchnight Service

11:00 p.m.

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Here's Looking at You

by René Klumb

Our Church family has been growing, not only with additions in the nursery, but also with new members. We have contracted with United Church Directories to photograph our members and publish our updated family album.

Every family that has its photo taken for the directory will receive, at no charge, one 8x 10 color portrait and a copy of the finished directory. Additional portraits will be available for purchase, but there is no obligation. Watch for a display showing sample portraits and price lists.

Photos will be taken March 1st through March 6th, and March 9th through March 13, 1999. Scheduling of photo appointments will begin after the holidays. We will also be looking for volunteers to do telephone follow-up and to assist with check in when the photos are being taken.

Every effort will be made to accommodate those who might be out of town during the scheduled photo dates. We are hoping for maximum participation, since our family album won't be complete without you. *

 

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Facilities renewal plan "On the Road"

by Doug Jacobson

We have been pleased with your response to this part of our ministry and welcome your comments.

In last month's Columns, we reported that the facilities renewal committee developed a "conceptual plan" for updating and improving numerous areas of our church building. The plan includes expanded and improved rehearsal areas for our music groups, remodeled and additional classrooms, a new library, and "learning center." The plan also includes suggestions for relieving congestion in certain areas and some new concepts for the fellowship areas.

The plan was reviewed with the Church Council on October 27th and the committee was given the go-ahead to "hit the road" and present the plan and get comments from the church boards, committees and other groups. This has been taking place during November and will be continuing in December.

We have already received many comments about the plan ­ what people like and what they don't. We have received many suggestions and a lot of fresh ideas about some of the concepts in the plan. All of this is very valuable input and exactly what is needed to ultimately come up with a master plan that makes sense, provides real value and has broad support within the congregation. We plan to make revisions to the concepts in the plan to reflect the common themes of comment that we are obtaining from these meetings.

We will make an attempt to present this plan to as many boards, committees and groups within the church as possible. The committee does not want this to be our plan: we want it to be the congregation's plan. If you have suggestions for us, questions about the plan or if your group hasn't heard from us and you'd like a presentation about the plan, please call Doug Jacobson (786-7781) or Merrill York (786-3959). Or feel free to pass along comments or questions to anyone on the committee. The committee members are; Carla Cummings, Lee Jacobi, Doug Jacobson, Chris Rygh, Nick Sgarlata, Tom Stacey and Merrill York. *

 

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Funeral Planning Forms Available

Much interesting discussion took place during the two sessions of the "If I Should Die..." program. If you were unable to attend and would like to receive information pieces that were distributed, please leave your name at the church office.

Our next step will be to contact those of you who have previously completed forms wherein you expressed your personal wishes for funeral plans. You may decide to update your form and we, of course, want to document those wishes. As coordinator of the program, Carrie Laubenheimer will be communicating with you about this over the next couple of months.

 

 

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Symposium A Rousing Success!

 

Congregationalism not only has a wonderful past, but an even more hopeful future! More than 180 participants gathered at First Church November 5­8, to celebrate the heritage of the Congregational Way and to examine its future. Representing 66 churches (14 from our Wisconsin State association) and 18 states, all those present realized that they were part of an historic occasion. "A Past With A Future: Continuing Congregationalism Into the Next Millennium" was the first such gathering in the 43-year history of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

The tone for the meeting was set by Rev. Phil Jackson's sermon during the Thursday evening worship service when he invited the participants to "push the cat through the transom" and begin to openly discuss theological issues. Each of the 13 speakers stressed the centrality, Lordship and Headship of Christ over the church, the importance of inter-church fellowship, and the importance of an informed faith and conscience. What emerged from presenters, panel discussants, and in discussion, both in groups and informally, was an excitement to reclaim our Congregational heritage of spiritual and intellectual life. It also became clear that one of the unique gifts of Congrega-tionalism, and a help for its future, is the ability to have unity among believers without insisting on uniformity; this also was amply demonstrated in discussion and fellowship!

The people of First Church were exemplary hosts, as attested by the evaluations, and the participants found the facilities, food and fellowship conducive to the task of theological reflection. This vibrant faith community was the perfect setting for a symposium such as this ­ living proof of a rich past and a bright future! *

 

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A word from Lonnie...

The Perfect Help the Imperfect

The legend of the "Wounded Healer" was made famous by Father Henri Nouwen in his book by the same name. A Rabbi went to the cave of a great prophet and asked, "When will the Messiah come?"

The prophet said, "He is already here."

"Then, where can I find him?" the Rabbi asked.

"You will find him at the gate of the city sitting among the poor, the wounded and oppressed."

"How shall I know him from all the other people there?" the Rabbi asked.

He answered, "The others there unwrap all their wounds and sores at the same time, but this is not true with the Messiah. The Messiah will remove the bandages from one wound at a time, treat the wound and then wrap it again. He does this saying 'Perhaps someone shall need me, and I could not go if all my wounds were unwrapped at one time, so I will treat them one at a time so I can go quickly to those who may need me.'"

(Nouwen, Henri, The Wounded Healer)

This is an important parable about helping and being helped in light of our relief efforts.

You may be surprised to realize this, but perfect people are seldom very helpful. In the first place, they are hard to find, and when you do find them, they are often self-proclaimed. The people who have truly reached some degree of spiritual perfection are usually so far out ahead of us that we do not feel in touch with them. More often than not, it is the imperfect people who save us.

Our capacity to help people is not contingent upon whether we have achieved a certain degree of perfection, but upon whether we truly care, as Jesus cared for people. When I am in trouble do not send me some sterile soul who thinks he has never done anything wrong in his life, who has never tasted his own tears and who has never felt remorse. Send me someone with scars, and perhaps an open wound or two. Send me someone who has been redeemed - several times!

Our help to the people of Honduras does more good for us than them. Their wounds heal ours and bind together the church.

 

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In brief

NEW DEADLINE

Due to an additional youth section which will be added to the Columns, more production time will be needed. December's deadline will be the 11th! (January 15, February 12).

Congregational Home Auxiliary

will be hosting a Christmas tea and annual cookie sale on December 8th in the chapel dining room from 2 until 4 p.m. Advance orders can be picked up at that time. Guests can browse a gift boutique and enjoy a cup of tea and sweets. Everyone is welcome.

Senior Women's Christmas Luncheon

On Monday, Dec. 14 at 11:00 a.m. (note time change), we will meet for our special Christmas celebration. Our program will be a musical presentation by students from Wauwatosa East High School in the Nave. The delicious Christmas luncheon will be served in Friendship Lounge. The cost is $7.50. Please call Ruth Karl by Dec. 10 for reservations, 462-6407. If you need a ride, call Holly or Kris.

Death

October 23, 1998 - Doris Holt

Marriage

November 14, 1998 - Rebecca Leigh Daigneau and Douglas Robert Peacock

Baptism

November 15, 1998 - Sylvia Marcia Allison, daughter of SaraLee and Hugh Allison

Funeral Service

November 18, 1998 - Donald Koch

The editor thanks:

Marilyn Auer and Doug Jacobson for articles, Tom Jarchow for pictures, and the staff for assistance.*

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Student Missionaries to Serve in Mexico

 

This December three FCC students will serve as Missionary Assistance Corps (MAC) volunteers at the NACCC mission in Mexico. Kaitlin Lemke, Jenny Pozayt and Nastassia Richardson will leave just after Christmas and travel to Mission Mazahua, about 80 miles outside of Mexico City. Joining these young women will be students from many other NACCC churches, 20 from Wisconsin churches alone.

For these three, this will be no "week on a sunny beach" vacation. In fact, the girls will be participating in a cross cultural setting where they will be expected to assist the work of the mission. Some will complete construction projects while others will garden. Still others will serve as teachers. Working out of this rural mission, our young ladies will be Christian ambassadors to the men, women and children of rural Atlacoumulco, Mexico. *

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Give a Bible for Christmas

Most 2-8 year olds at FCC do not have a bible they can call their own, despite the fact that over the last two years First Church has given away over 40 bibles through its services of baptism. "We've got this gap," says Chris Rygh, director of student ministries, "and I'm really hoping that parents and grandparents will help us bridge it. What we are after is continuity--an age appropriate, readable bible in the hands of every one of our children. For the children under third grade that means a copy of our Beginner's Bible."

The Beginner's Bible, published by Zondervan Publishers, is a simplified version of the NIV translation and is adapted specifically for beginning readers. This book is designed to be used either as a read aloud book or as a text for emerging first grade readers.

"The Beginner's Bible was a terrific idea for our kids," said Margaret Hetzel. "The illustrations are bright and inviting, and our boys can actually read the text. It sends a great message to children when they can read the bible for themselves and not find it intimidating."

The Beginner's Bible is recommended for children through second grade. The retail price is $17.00. When the bible is ordered through the church, however, the cost is only $13.00. Copies may be ordered by calling Chris Rygh at 258-7375.*

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Tidbits from the Director

 

Placing people into categories can be dangerous. But it can also be incredibly liberating. Case in point. Last week our BASIC Training students completed a spiritual gifts inventory in an attempt to determine how each one might be specially suited for serving our church. More than a few students were shocked by what they discovered. For example, some were amazed to discover they had signs of leadership. Others couldn't believe they were wired up to be encouragers. A few were even surprised that mercy and compassion could be considered gifts.

Parents, please take some time to talk with your children about their areas of giftedness, and encourage them to be lavish in the use of their gifts. One of the most important things you can do for your children is help them discover their temperaments, their gifts and their passions.

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Help for College Seekers

Finding tuition money for college is tough work, but so is finding solid information about colleges and universities. Thanks to the recommendations of Sharon Koenings, director of placement at Brookfield Academy and David Swanson, career consultant, we have added the following titles to Children's Library. These special books and CD's may be checked out for one week at a time.

* The Princeton Review SAT. Available in book form and on CD.

* The Princeton Review ACT. Available in book form and on CD.

* Barron's Profiles of American Colleges. Generally considered the best directory of college statistics, this book will allow one to search by geography, cost, and college major. It also provides full profiles on most every college in the United States. Available in book form and on CD.

* The Insider's Guide to the Colleges. The editors of The Yale Daily News have compiled all kinds of insider information on hundreds of colleges and universities. This "by the students for the students" approach yields a very readable and sometimes hilarious text.

* Choosing the Right College. This is a hard critique of America's most rigorous institutions. As stated by William Bennett in the introduction, this book offers "tough minded analysis of the quality of instruction, the level of academic standards, the campus political atmosphere, and the extent to which the liberal arts tradition is respected and cultivated. It is one of those rare books that cuts through the information glut to the heart of the matter."*

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Pennies from Heaven

Teach children early to manage money wisely . One FCC family uses three jars for each child. From every dollar received in a birthday card or for allowance 25% goes into savings, 25% into the church/charity jar and 25% into the rainy day fund.

Through our Sunday School ministry we are collecting spare change for two important mission projects. In lieu of paper offering envelopes this year, all of our children have been given cloth money bags. Each week students are encouraged to bring their pennies, dimes and dollars to church where they make deposits into their class banks. In January and again in May, each class will dedicate their jar of coins to our mission in Honduras and to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.

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Special notes for families

. . . on upcoming fun

Plan now to attend the annual Christmas Workshop from 3:30 to 5:30 on December 6. Pizza supper to follow.

. . . on teaching prayer

Teach children to pray at times other than meals and bed time. For example, pause before taking a long trip and share a family prayer in which you pray for safe travel. Dads, catch your children alone and share a special prayer in which you thank God for mommy. After a positive report at the veterinarian, say a prayer with your children in which you thank God for special people who care for animals. Goal: help your children experience a God who is always listening even for the little things.

. . . on teaching scripture

We balk at memorizing bible passages, yet we love to show off our recall of telephone numbers, old padlock combinations, sports statistics, recipes, the number of fat grams in McDonald's french fries. Some have even memorized entire episodes of MASH or Cheers or Seinfeld. Consider having your family memorize a special bible verse each month. For starters try Gen 1:1 or Deut 6:5,6 or Ps 139:7,8 or Jn 3:16.

. . . on teaching stewardship

Teach children early to manage money wisely . One FCC family uses three jars for each child. From every dollar received in a birthday card or for allowance 25% goes into savings, 25% into the church/charity jar and 25% into the rainy day fund.

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Congregational Columns

www.FirstChurchTosa.org

Editor, Beth Linscott

Communications Committee

René Klumb - Chairperson,

Julie Peay, Bruce Smith, Dave Swanson, Jennifer Wakefield,

Win Williams

*

Rev. Lonnie Richardson, Senior Minister

Rev. Dr. Steven A. Peay, Associate Minister/Teacher

Chris Rygh, Director of Student Ministries

Rani Gusho, Financial Administrator

Roy Brouwer, Building Superintendent

Lee Jacobi, Director of Music

Betty Dethmers, Organist

Michelle Jackson, Parish Nurse

Betsy Isenberg, Secretary

Nancy Gross, Secretary

Charles Nelson, Administrator, Congregational Home, Inc.

Rev. Norman S. Ream, Minister Emeritus

*

Vol. 7, Issue 11