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Our 61st Year Roberta Croll, EditorRevised December 24, 2015

Christmas Letter from Senior Pastor David Lindsey:

Grace and peace to you!

I'm writing to wish you a very Merry Christmas. I hope that, in the hustle and bustle of the season, you are able to find a few moments of quiet and calm. May the Holy Spirit bless you with some peace this season!

If I were sitting in a church like ours and wishing you a merry Christmas 300 years ago, however, I'd be in a lot of trouble. Seriously.

For many years, our Congregationalist forebears weren't exactly fans of Christmas. The early Puritans considered Christmas to be a non-scriptural overlay on a pagan celebration of the winter solstice (to be fair, the Puritans had a point about this). From 1659 to 1681, though, anyone caught celebrating Christmas in Massachusetts would be fined five schillings. Believe it or not, this ban on Christmas continued well into the 18th (and in some places, the 19th) century. Until 1870, when Christmas was finally recognized as a legal holiday, shops would be open in parts of New England and good Christian men (and women) were expected to work, not rejoice. Nowadays, of course, Christmas is a beloved part of life in the United Church of Christ. Our commitment to scripture remains the same, but our practices have become more open.

Churches change, you see. They evolve. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't know much about Christian history.

In about a month's time, we as a congregation will be voting on some significant changes in our congregational life. At the annual meeting on January 31, we will vote on a new vision of God's call for our common life -- a vision focused on spirituality, service, and stewardship of creation. We will also vote on an organizational / governance structure to help us move into that new vision. Your voice needs to be heard at that meeting, so please plan to attend. Even the usual business we have to discuss -- nominations, budgets, etc. -- will be affected by the actions we take that day. Again, please mark your calendars that day for one worship service at 10:00 am, followed by a congregational meeting at 11:15 am.

For now, though, may your Christmas be merry; may your new year be happy; and may God bless and keep you all the days of your life.

In Christ's peace,
David

This Week

One Worship Service

Sunday, December 27

Join us on the First Sunday of Christmas (December 27) for one worship service at 10:00 am. There will be no church school for children and youth, but childcare for infants, toddlers, and twos will be available in Room 1.

End-of-Year Financial Reminders

Monday, December 28 & Thursday, December 31

In order for your contributions to Little RIver UCC to be treated on our books and giving statements as having been made in 2015, they must either be (a) physically received in the church office no later than the close of business (12:00 noon) on December 31, or (b) placed in the mail and postmarked with a date no later than December 31. Please keep in mind that the Post Office does not always date-stamp mail as a routine matter, so just dropping an envelope in the mail on the 31st won’t necessarily guarantee that it will receive such a postmark.

Also, all remaining expenses and reimbursements chargeable to the 2015 operating budget need to be processed and paid by December 31. In order to avoid a last minute paper-work crunch, we request that all vouchers for the payment of such expenses and reimbursements be turned in no later than Monday, December 28 (and earlier if at all possible). If circumstances simply do not permit that, please call the church office (703-978-3060) or email our office administrator, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , to let us know in advance what the voucher is for and when you expect to have a signed and completed voucher in her hands. We will do our best to accommodate such last minute vouchers, but please understand that, at some point, we may simply run out of the time necessary for completing their processing and payment.

Holiday Office Hours

The office will be closed and working with shortened hours during this holiday season.  Our normal office hours will resume on Monday, January 4. See below for details of our holiday office schedule:
CLOSED:  December 25, 28 and January 1
OPEN (9:00 am - 2:00 pm): December 29 & 30
OPEN (9:00 am - 12:00 pm): December 31

Game Day

Saturday, January 2

Come learn and play modern board games with us! Journey the Tokaido trading route, settle islands, plant cacao fields, build cities, and more! Have fun playing with fun people! This event is hosted by Bruce and Bryce Summers on behalf of the Board of Deacons and all are welcome! We will meet in the Social Hall from 1:00-5:00 pm. Questions? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Next Week

"Caring Hands" Prayer Shawl Project

Sunday, January 3 & 24

"Caring Hands" is Little River's name for those of us in the church who knit or crochet items for various causes. Over the past several years, projects have included preemie hats for Fairfax INOVA Hospital, winter hats for Thrive DC, squares for Knit-a-Square blankets for South Africa, scarves for the UCC Rainbow Scarf Project, and baptism blankets for babies baptized at Little River UCC. At this time, the Deacons' Parish Care Committee would like to provide prayer shawls to the pastors so that they may give them to those experiencing difficult life circumstances. The Committee aims to have several shawls on hand, so there is always one available when the need arises.

For those interested in making prayer shawls, there will be drop-in sessions on Sundays, January 3 and 24 (11:00 am - 12:30 pm) in Room 7 where you may pick up supplies and connect with others interested in this effort. There will also be information on baptism blankets as well as charity knitting and crochet projects beyond Little River UCC.

For more information or to schedule a knitting/crochet lesson, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Intersections: Sacred Conversation on Race

Sunday, January 3

We are a congregation founded and grounded in affirming all people regardless of race and ethnicity. To deepen the Sacred Conversation on Race and learn how race intersects with many justice issues, we will gather on Sunday, January 3 at 11:00 a.m. in Room 8 for prayer and thought on the continuing issues of racism.

This month, we welcome all to the conversation, as we focus on Islamophobia, justice for Syrian refugees in America, and our congregation’s commitment to racial and social justice for all. Please come, and add your voice to the conversation.

Food Pantry Reminder

Sunday, January 3

Next Sunday and every Communion Sunday (normally the first Sunday of every month), we invite your gifts of non-expired, non-perishable staple food items, which are placed in our church’s FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help) pantry and used to help the hungry in our community. Donations of non-expired, non-perishable foods, baby items, household cleaning supplies, and small toiletries are always welcome for the pantry. The following items are especially appreciated by our partner organizations:

  • baby formula and food, rice cereal
  • canned meats, chili, pastas fruits & vegetables
  • cereal, juice boxes, mac & cheese, pasta & sauces
  • disposable diapers, pull-ups and baby wipes and home cleaning supplies
  • rice, peanut butter, and snacks for children (goldfish, granola bars, individual snacks)

Monday Morning Bible Study

Monday, January 4

From The Great Courses, Historian Luke Timothy Johnson offers a fresh and historically grounded assessment of the life and letters of Christianity's "apostle to the Gentiles" in this video series. "One of the most fascinating, important, and controversial figures in the religious history of the West, Paul the Apostle continues to find champions and detractors, sometimes in surprising places," says Professor Johnson. Discussions are led by Richard Davidson. Please join us at 10:00 a.m. in Room 8. Sessions begin again in the new year on January 4.

More Church News

Matching Funds Available for New Pledgers

Still considering whether your household will make a pledge of support to Little River UCC this year? We have been selected by the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC to receive a modest challenge grant. This grant provides matching funds for any first-time pledges to Little River for the 2016 budget year. As a result, newly-pledged dollars will have a doubled impact this year. We are grateful for this expression of support from our denomination.

Visioning Team Members

As part of our ongoing visioning process, our Senior Pastor has gathered a team of church members to prayerfully consider what God is calling us to do and be in the coming years. The members of this team have been reviewing our April conversations about God’s call for us, as well as demographic information, Christian scripture, and more. At our church’s Annual Meeting in January, this group will be sharing what they have heard from God, from you, and from one another about what Little River’s future might be.

The members of this team are Denny Bloomquist, Carrie Douglas, John Forrest, Saundra Honeysett, Lisa Page, Gail Perry, Marilin Sailor, and Steve Wheelock. Please feel free to ask any of them about this process, and to share with them your hopes and dreams for our congregation’s future. And be sure to attend the Town Hall conversations in the coming weeks, to let your voice be heard!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Christian Hospital, Mungeli

Our Global Ministries Partner in India, Anil Henry, wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. They are thankful for all the prayers and support they have received this year. Read the entire December update here.

Save the Date

Women's Book Group: Poetry Reading

Sunday, January 10

Sunday, January 10 is our Women's Book Group annual Poetry-fest. Jennifer Atkinson will lead, and is providing a brief anthology from which we may select an interesting, appealing, moving and/or challenging poem. The anthology will be available soon. Please join us at 12:15 pm in Room 7.

Annual Reports Due

Monday, January 11

In preparation for the Annual Meeting of the congregation at the end of January, it is necessary for boards and committees of the church to submit an annual report to the church office, preferably in electronic format, no later than Monday, January 11. If you have questions, please contact our office administrator This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it via email or phone (703) 978-3060.

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