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Our 63rd Year Roberta Croll, EditorRevised December 16, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent
10:00 am Worship

Sunday, December 18

At this time of year, we often celebrate the stories of Jesus's birth with a sense that it couldn't have happened any other way. But things almost turned out very differently. According to the Gospel of Matthew, when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant (and the baby wasn't his), he very nearly broke off their engagement. What would you have done, if you were in Joseph's shoes?

Join us for worship at 10 am this Sunday as we consider this thorny question!

This Week

Christmas Fund Offering

Sunday, December 18 and Saturday, December 24

Please plan to include the Christmas Offering in your holiday giving. At Little River UCC, we will receive this offering this Sunday, December 18 and during both Christmas Eve services (Saturday, December 24). Half of the offering will go to the United Church of Christ Christmas Fund to assist retired UCC clergy experiencing financial difficulty, in many cases related to health problems. The other half will be split between two organizations who seek justice and peace locally and abroad: JustChildren and The Church World Service. The JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center is the largest children's law program in the state of Virginia. They rely on a range of strategies to make sure the Commonwealth's most vulnerable young people receive the services and support they need to lead successful lives in their communities. The Church World Service welcomes and supports refugees abroad and at home. The church will gladly receive contributions in the office, offering plate, or through the online giving button on the website. Please make your check payable to Little River UCC with memo "Christmas Fund Offering." Cash donations can be included in the special Christmas Fund envelope or in a regular pew envelope with “Christmas Fund” written on the outside. The members of the Board of Outreach and Social Justice thank you for your generosity.

Family Faith and Film

Sunday, December 18

Bring the whole family to enjoy a viewing of the seasonal favorite "A Charlie Brown Christmas" as we receive a lighthearted reminder of the reason for the season! Bring a bag lunch, a blanket, and prepare to snuggle with your loved ones. Punch, cookies and fun activities provided by the Board of Christian Education. See you there this Sunday, December 18 at 11:30 am in the Jubilee Room.

Fair Trade Sales for the Holidays

Sunday, December 18

To make sure you can fulfill your holiday needs, fairly traded products will be for sale again today after worship. You’ll find chocolate bars for stockings and office gifts, coffee for your entertaining and sanity (chocolate too, for that matter), bottles of Palestinian olive oil for hostess gifts instead of wine, tins of olive oil for your kitchen, olive tapenade and za’ater for all, and, new this year, lovely bars of olive oil soap for giving and enjoying. Please remember that all items support small farmers in emerging economies by providing fair compensation, and a portion of the olive oil sales supports Tent of Nations, a West Bank organization working on peace and reconciliation. Look for the sales table after worship!

Next Week and Beyond

Monday Morning Bible Study

Monday, December 19

The Monday Morning Study Group invites you to begin the 'Study Of Jesus and His Jewish Influences’ from the Great Courses with Professor Jodi Magness, Ph.D., a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Explore excerpts and passages from influential texts such as the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Apocrypha. Follow the evolution of 12 Israelite tribes into a monarchy that crumbled over tensions about worshipping the God of Israel. Examine how the Book of Daniel is repeated in Jesus's own prophesies about the destruction of the Temple. This is a new topic and we hope you will join us Mondays from 10:00 am to noon in Room 8. This study group is led by Richard Davidson.

Christmas Eve Worship Services

Saturday, December 24

Everyone is welcome to join us at one of our Christmas Eve services, either at 5:00 pm or 9:00 pm. The early service is a family-friendly worship service. Children are encouraged to help us tell the story of Christ’s birth by dressing as an angel, shepherd, or favorite animal. If you happen to arrive without a costume, or you have guests for the holiday, we’ve got “costumes” on hand for you to borrow. The late worship will be a contemplative service of Lessons and Carols, which will conclude with a candlelit singing of Silent Night. Please join us for one or both Christmas Eve services!

Poetry in January

Sunday, January 8

Women’s Ministry presents the Book Club, featuring Poetry with Jennifer Atkinson. Jennifer teaches at George Mason University and will be bringing her “teaching bag” with lots of activities that will be fun for us to try. Please plan to come and have a pleasant, enriching time. See you Sunday, January 8 at 11:30 am in Room 7.

"White Privilege-Let’s Talk” by the UCC

Sunday, January 8

Beginning Sunday, January 8 at 9:00 am, a team of leaders will begin this Adult Education program designed to invite members to engage in safe, meaningful, substantive and bold conversations on race. “It is time that this still largely white denomination wrestle with its investment in whiteness, and learn all it can about the manifestations and impact of White Privilege," said the Rev. John Dorhauer, co-writer and UCC general minister and president.

The curriculum will lead participants through four areas of focus: telling the story of your spiritual journey through the lens of race; looking at the dynamic of a culture in which whiteness is the established norm; learning how America attaches a cash value to whiteness; and inviting the participants to commit to becoming an ally in the pursuit of racial equity. This is a seven week program. The remaining dates will be January 15, 29, and February 5, 12, 19, and 26. We hope to see you there.

Living Your Values as a Federal Employee

Sunday, January 15

Many of our congregants are federal employees or contractors and some have expressed concern over how we can live our values in the new administration. Is anyone interested in joining an informal affinity group to discuss these issues? Perhaps we can help each other through discussion, fellowship, or insight.

If you are interested, please join us in Room 8 on Sunday, January 15 at 11:30 for a brief organizing discussion. As an affinity group we could try to have lunch once a month, meet occassionaly, or participate in other activities. Hope to see you there!

More Church News

Celebrate Faithful Giving Update

This week the campaign reported $524,070 in pledges from 115 families and individuals. Is there a possibility of setting a record by achieving the minimum goal before Christmas? Only $82,930 is needed to reach the campaign’s minimum goal of $607,000. There is also the real possibility that together the congregation will receive a larger total number of commitments for 2017 than in 2016. Only 20 pledges are needed to exceed the total pledges received for 2016. The matching gift challenge continues. It will provide one dollar for each three dollars of increased giving from current or new givers up to a total match of $6,000. Watch this space!

The matching challenge must be met by the close of business on Friday, January 6, 2017.

Thank You Everyone for Your Support!

Thanks to the generous response from the congregation, in November the Board of Outreach and Social Justice was able to support the Thanksgiving basket program at Shaw Ministries, an outreach program for children, youth and adults in the Shaw community of Washington, DC, as well as the annual coat drive at Thrive DC, serving the homeless in Washington, DC. Little River UCC members contributed 21 bags of Thanksgiving groceries and $650.00 in grocery store gift cards to the Thanksgiving basket program. Forty-seven adult coats, nineteen sweaters, ten blankets, four sleeping bags, and one bag each of t-shirts, hats, scarves, and gloves were donated to the coat drive. In addition, two new children’s coats were donated to Alternative House and 15 used children’s coats were given to Annandale Christian Community for Action.

End-of-the-Year Financial Reminders

In order for your contributions to Little River UCC to be treated on our books and giving statements as having been made in ​2016, they must either be (a) physically received in the church office no later than the close of business on ​Friday ​December 3​0, or (b) placed in the mail and postmarked on or before December 31​​, or (c) made via LRUCC's online giving option before 4:00 pm on 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 December 31 will not necessarily guarantee that it will receive such a postmark.

Also, all remaining expenses and reimbursements chargeable to the 201​6​ operating budget need to be processed and paid by December 31. In order to avoid a last minute paperwork crunch, please submit all vouchers for the payment of such expenses and reimbursements no later than Monday, December ​26.

Women's March on Washington Needs Your Donations

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. -1 Corinthians 16:13-14

As some of you may know, women, and other concerned citizens, from around the region, country, and world are preparing a peaceful protest/gathering/march for the day after the Presidential Inauguration on Saturday, January 21, 2017 from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm. (More information for the Million Women March can be found at The Board of Outreach and Social Justice is ironing out the details of our physical participation in the march, but we do know that we would like to incorporate signs. In the vein of not looking threatening (i.e., using stakes, sticks, metal, etc.), we are hoping that church members can bring in their empty, cardboard, Christmas wrapping paper tubes to use as sign posts. We will have a collection box in the atrium moving forward for this purpose.

Annual Update from Anil Henry

The annual report of the Christian Hospital Mungeli (CHM) is available on the Global Ministries website.

Little River UCC has a long-term supporting relationship with Dr. Anil Henry, surgeon and Medical Director at CHM. The hospital serves a great need as it offers the only affordable health care in the area and is also the only facility able to provide high quality surgical care. This year the hospital continued its exciting growth and worked to improve its services even more. Visit the website at or like Christian Hospital Mungeli on Facebook to follow the transformative and essential work this growing facility performs in its region. A few highlights from the report include the facts that the annual number of patients now surpasses 30,000; the hospital-run school now educates over 800 impoverished children from the surrounding area; and their recently established nursing school graduated the third class of local students who will give back two years of service to the hospital in exchange for subsidized tuition. According to the report, in the past year they have constructed a new health facility for maternal and child health, ICU, and surgical care; opened a dialysis unit, inaugurated a low-cost cancer unit; and launched a new more comprehensive Mobile Hospital. The needs continue to be great, with housing construction for staff and nursing students and a school expansion underway.

Proclaiming God’s Radically Inclusive Love

We’ve got a new banner out on the turnpike! If you haven’t noticed it, take a look on your way in on Sunday.

The wording for this banner arose out of a Ministry Board meeting in November. Pastor David remembers it this way: “After checking in with one another for a few minutes, we talked about how to minister to both Little River and the wider community right now. During that discussion, I shared my take on what I believe has always been and will always be Little River’s core mission: to proclaim God’s radically inclusive love. Whether it was racial integration, LGBT hospitality, refugee ministries, or interfaith dialogue, Little River has a long history of witnessing to God’s radically inclusive love – a witness that was around a long time before I got here, and that will continue long after I’m gone. After I shared my thoughts, the Ministry Board decided that we ought to put those words right out on the Turnpike as a witness to what we know to be true: that God’s inclusive love is far greater than any human exclusion ever could be.” Please help us live up to the words of the banner amongst ourselves and with the wider community. With all that we are and all that we do, may we continue to proclaim God’s radically inclusive love, now and always!

Hosting Julie Holm and guest Nina

Longtime Little River member Rev. Julie Holm is coming back to the area to visit for a few days, and she's bringing an intern from Germany named Nina! Nina Hortig comes from our ecumenical partners in Köln, Germany and will be working in two of our churches in the Penn Central Conference in the first part of 2017. Julie and Nina will be in town March 15 to 18 and are hoping to stay with a church friend. Are you interested in and available to host them? Please contact Julie either This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phone at her office (814-349-5515). Thanks in advance for helping them feel welcome!

Church Council News

Little River UCC Committee Meeting Minutes

Board of Outreach and Social Justice (December 4, 2016)

Board of Deacons Meeting (November 15, 2016)

Board of Trustees (October 18, 2016)

Christian Education (September 20, 2016)

Communications Committee (August 9, 2016)

Endowment Fund Committee (October 12, 2016)

Finance Committee (August 2016)

Nominations and Appointments Committee (October 12, 2016)

Personnel Committee (June 22, 2016)

Stewardship Committee (October 4, 2016)

Women's Ministry (October 27, 2016)

Full minutes of Church Council, Governance Board, and Ministry Board meetings are posted on this webpage.