Friday, November 25, 2011

Buy From Women for Women

This year our church wide mission project is to buy gifts for the women at The Bowery Mission Women's Center, a program on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that provides shelter, support, counseling and job training for women in crisis. Click here for the complete list of suggested gifts. (Note: the list is on page 2)

Wouldn't it be neat if you could double your impact by buying your gift for The Bowery Mission Women's Center from other programs that serve to empower women? The cool thing is you can - and you might very well save money by doing so. Here are some links to places you can shop.

Serrv - One of the largest outlets for fair trade crafts, the majority of Serrv's handicrafts are made by women through dozens of programs around the world that serve to educate and economically empower women, and through them, their communities.

Soup of Success - Soups, desserts & greeting cards by homeless women in Elkhart, IN

Women's Initiative Network - Foods stuffs & Jewelry by domestic violence survivors in Wichita, KS

Poverello Prints - amazing cards and artwork by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

Women of the Cloud Forest - jewelry & embroidered bags from Costa Rica

Tutwiler Quilters - quilted bags and place mats from the Mississippi Delta

Women's Bean Project - soup mixes from Denver, CO

We Give Thanks

Last Sunday at CPC we renewed our Thanksgiving Banner, pinning leaves with our own prayers of Thanksgiving up on the large cloth banner reading "Thank you."

Here are some of the prayers of thanks that were offered. Add your own Prayer of Thanksgiving to the comments, or add it to the banner in church next time you are there.
  • Family and church
  • My family
  • Guiding and protecting us through a difficult year
  • A new addition to the family
  • A loving, wonderful wife
  • Every breath I take
  • Family, good friends, good health
  • Life, family, church
  • Food, water, shelter
  • Good health & Pastor Fritz's leadership
  • For God keeping us strong in tough times and blessing us in good times
  • Shepherds who take care of the sheep
  • Love of children
  • Wife, family & friends - for health & peace in their lives
  • A loving family who is there when I need them
  • Love, family, health
  • The opportunities I have been luckily enough to be given
  • Strength and good health to continue caring for my mother-in-law
  • Mommy, Papa, Daddy
  • That God puts up with me
  • Family, friendship, patience, health, happiness
  • My little boys & family
  • The warm friendship found at CPC
  • Amazing family & friends
  • Wonderful family
  • Health & family
  • Church & family
  • Wife, daughter, future son-in-law & church
  • Wife who picks me up from the train station at 11:30 pm
  • Healthy family

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Annotated Guide to Advent/Christmas at CPC

Every place has its traditions, and some are a little peculiar, so I thought I'd explain a little about what we do at CPC to keep our spirits focused on Christ during this season.

Download the entire Advent/Christmas schedule

The Advent Wreath - A devotional tool used to focus on the light that Christ brings into our lives during Christmas. Consists of four candles (either pink or purple) symbolizing the weeks leading up to Christmas and a white center candle symbolizing Christ. On Sundays during worship, starting November 27, we will light one candle each week. Then on Christmas Eve we will light the inner white candle. Many of us also have advent wreaths in our homes and light them daily during a meal or during private devotions. The church distributes a daily Advent devotional to help focus us on Christ's coming.

Poinsettias - members and friends of the congregation contribute to decorating the sanctuary by buying poinsettias in honor or remembrance of those they love. Those who desire to take their poinsettias home after the Christmas Eve service pay a premium of $12. Those who leave their poinsettias behind to decorate the sanctuary through the Christmas season pay $6. Those who are feeling generous or forgetful pay $12 and leave their poinsettia behind.

Advent Kickoff Potluck (Sunday, Nov. 27 @ 6:00) - a low key dinner to get the Christmas season started right.

Lighting of Malverne (Saturday, Dec. 3 from 5-9) - Malverne's Christmas festival. We have a table out on Hempstead Avenue (which is closed) and give away free cookies and hot cider while inviting everyone to join us for the Christmas season (and beyond).

Cookie Walk (Sunday, Dec. 11 after church) - an annual fundraiser for the Presbyterian Women. In the old days they would bake cookies and sell them to the congregation. Now everyone in the congregation bakes cookies and then buys their cookies back.

The Christmas Tree (Decorated on Dec. 11 during worship) - The sanctuary Christmas Tree is communally decorated with generations of ornaments made by church school children and others.

Caroling (Sunday, Dec. 11 @ 3:30) - We gather for a simple dinner of soup, bread and hot dogs before careening around town to sing carols at the homes of our shut ins and others. We than return to the church for a relaxing evening of hot coco, cookies and conversation in the church lounge.

Christmas Eve Services (Dec. 24, 4:00 & 11:00) - The so called "family service," the 4:oo service makes a special effort to include the congregation's children in telling the Christmas story. It also includes special music, Pastor Fritz's Christmas sermon and communion. The 4:00 service tends to run a little longer than an ordinary Sunday service. The 11:00 service is a low key service of lessons and carols. Members of the congregation read a series of scriptures beginning with Genesis that illuminate the coming of Jesus. Between readings the congregation sings carols or special music is offered. There is no sermon. The service ends shortly after 12:00 am on Christmas morning.

Download the entire Advent/Christmas schedule

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Church Fair 2011

Many thanks to everyone who helped with this year's church fair and dinner - and a special thanks to those who came and spent money. The fair raised over $5,200 for the church.

Check out the slide show.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Church Fair this Weekend

Saturday, 10 - 3, Dinner at 6:00. Dinner is $12.

Fresh Vegetables • Mary’s Crafts • Fair Trade Crafts from around the world • Baked Goods • Baskets & More Baskets • Quilt Raffle • Hand made Children’s Clothes • Sausage Lady • Children’s craft project • Pork Dinner

Check out the quilt

Here's the flier. Click for a printable PDF.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Letter to Congregation Re: New Boiler & Year End Finances

October 28, 2011

To the congregation:

After worship last Sunday, the Finance Committee presented an update on congregational finances and presented initial estimates for the cost of replacing the church hall boiler, which cracked two weeks ago.

As for the congregation’s finances, our income is up slightly due to the preschool but a 60% rise in the cost of oil in addition to staff pay raises have caused expenses to increase as well. Congregational giving has also been slightly weaker than in previous years. Taken together, this leaves us with a projected $6,000 deficit for 2011.

The boiler is expected to cost approximately $20,000 to replace, an amount that includes asbestos removal, disposal of the old boiler, purchasing the new boiler, installation and other expenses associated with a possible conversion to natural gas.

The good news is that a new boiler will considerably lower our energy use. This plus the growing preschool bodes well for the congregation’s long-term financial picture.

At this time, however, we need everybody to dig a little deeper and challenge themselves to both help balance this year’s budget and raise the funds necessary for the new boiler. By the end of the meeting last Sunday, we had already received four pledges toward the new boiler exceeding $6,500. We also received lesser commitments toward helping balance the operating budget.

Community Presbyterian is our spiritual home. It is where we gather to praise God, to raise our children in the faith, to fellowship together, to pray for each other and the world and to serve our neighbors. Enclosed with this letter is a simple form asking you to do your part to help move the congregation over the hump. If you could prayerfully consider how much you are able to give, both toward the boiler and the projected deficit, and then fill out the form, it would be of great help. Completed forms can be put into the offering plate or given to Nancy Stalb.

Thank you

Lorne Birch


Download Pledge Form

In Memoriam - Church Hall Boiler

On Sunday we offered our thanks to God for the life and service of the church hall boiler. For 81 years, first as a coal boiler and then as an oil fired boiler, it provided heat for scout troops and AA meetings, community theatrical productions and talent shows, the thrift shop and fellowship club dinners, church fairs and coffee hours.

Over the years, the boiler tank began to rust away with age, developing leaks and then sealing the leaks over with rust. Over the years, congregational leaders also questioned the boiler's efficiency, wondering about changes but then balking at the cost of replacement.

At its September 2011 meeting, the Session questioned once again whether, with rising oil prices we could continue affording to operate the church hall boiler. They appointed a team to begin reviewing options. And then when our Sexton John Wolfe test fired the boiler, water began running out the bottom as quickly as it went in the top. The boiler had finally rusted through.

For years, when we felt we could not afford to replace it, the good Lord kept our boiler going. And then, when we were wondering whether we could afford to run it, the boiler died. Our God watches over us in all ways.

The church is currently soliciting bids for all aspects of the boiler replacement process. We expect it will cost in the vicinity of $20,000 once costs related to a possible conversion to gas are factored in.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Youth Schedule

This is the fall schedule for Nassau Joint Youth activities

Sunday, Oct. 2 - Courageous Movie Screening - Roosevelt Field theater, 3:30, followed by pizza and discussion at Garden City Presbyterian Church

Sunday, Oct. 16 - Crop Walk, Baldwin Park, 1:00 - Special fake geo caching activity & lunch

November 11-12 - Retreat @ Holmes Camp

Sunday, Dec. 4 - Out of the Box Worship, 5:00 pm, Massapequa

What's Going On with Sunday School

We've gotten a slow start with Sunday School this year, but have finally figured everything out. Here's what's going to happen:

- Toddler/Pre-K - Head Teacher Laura Eisenlau
- Elementary - Head Teacher Gloria Olson
- Middle School + - Head Teacher Mary Hallam

11:00 - 11:15 - General Gathering w/ story presented by youth and music.
11:15-12:00 - Separate classes. (Toddler class with be shorter)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bill Lee's 9-11 Fountain

Bill Lee built an incredible pool and fountain on the church lawn for our outdoor service on 9-11. Check out the pictures below.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Special 9-11 Service

All are welcome to attend this special service of remembrance for those who died on 9-11 and of prayer for ourselves and our world. The service will include both corporate prayer and time for individual reflection. Communion will be served and one-on-one healing prayer will be offered.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Church survives Irene

The church survived the brunt of Hurricane Irene in fine shape. A plexiglass window covering was destroyed by the wind, but other than that there was no damage.

The church's main phone line - 599-3220 - is out as is the preschool phone.

The manse yard suffered some tree damage and lost an old Hydrangea bush. The manse has been without power since Sunday morning.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The saga of the church doors

Don Neugebauer came by on Tuesday planning to throw a little Rustoleum on the bottom of the church's front doors in preparation for repainting. He took the door down, flipped it up so he could see the bottom, and found the door's bottom partially rusted away. Luckily Don had just brought an angle grinder and our across the street neighbor was throwing away a bunch of treated two-by-fours. A few hours, and several trips home and to the hardware store later, the door had a new bottom.

Earlier Don had noticed that the threshold of the door was not well fastened down. On Wednesday, Don came back, pulled up the threshold and found nothing. The entire floor under the right side of the threshold had rotted away. Don went home.

On Thursday Don returned. The second door came down and received a new bottom. The threshold came back up, and the full extent of the rot accessed. Don pulled up the carpet and cut away 30" into the narthex, pulling up rotted floor boards and laying down treated plywood. He replaced the threshold, hung the second door and went home. Someone else can buy some tile.

A huge thanks to Don, as well as to Bill who lent support.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Sermon Series 2011 - Back to Sunday School

In worship this summer we're going to be reviewing all the Old Testament Stories you may have learned in Sunday School. Moses and the Red Sea. Noah and the Ark. Daniel in the Lion's Den. Deborah the Judge. Ruth and Naomi. Etc. Every Sunday we'll be reviewing an entire story and contemplating what meaning it still has for us today. Sometime the following week, I'll put the text of the sermon online.

If you have a favorite story you want to suggest, put it in the comments section below.

June 26 - Abraham & Isaac - Putting it all on the line for God
July 3 - The Exodus - Liberation and freedom in the American conversation
July 10 - Noah and the Flood - A God who discovers grace
July 17 - Rahab and the Wall - Our powerful and liberating God
July 24 - Ruth and Naomi - a story of commitment

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Children's Benefit Fair

Many thanks to Cadette Troop 2321 for organizing a Benefit Children's Fair to raise money for the Long Island Council of Churches Food Pantry and bring attention to Little Blessings Preschool. Check out the slide show for pictures.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Presbyterians Approve Ordination of Gay People"

As the New York Times reported this afternoon, the Presbytery of the Twin Cities cast the final vote necessary to approve new language regarding who may be ordained elders, deacons and ministers in the PC(USA). While most of the headlines will declare that the church has a new policy of inclusiveness, the real situation is much more nuanced. The old language only dates back to 1996, and the new language basically restores church policy to what it was in 1996. And nobody at that time thought the church was overly inclusive toward gays and lesbians.

Old Language
“Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained an/or installed as deacons, elders or ministers.”

New Language
“Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. The governing bodies responsible for ordination or installation shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, reparation and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation. Governing bodies shall be guided by scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

What this means
The responsibility for ordaining ministers in the PC(USA) has always resided at the Presbytery level. Responsibility for ordaining elders and deacons has always resided at the congregational level. The old language, adopted in 1996, was a rare imposition of a national standard on this local process. The new language removes the national standard, giving presbyteries and congregations full authority to decide whether a candidate “receives and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and is instructed and led by those confessions as they lead the people of God?” It also gives the presbyteries and congregations the authority to decide if those essential tenants are inclusive or exclusive of practicing homosexuals in committed relationships. In short its up to the presbyteries and congregations. Nobody has to ordain practicing homosexuals. But if enough people in the presbytery or the congregation believe that to ordain practicing homosexuals is in line with scripture and the confessions, they can.

Two viewpoints:
  1. This changes everything: Some are saying that the removal of the “fidelity and chastity” language around ordination, especially when combined with new language in the new form of government (should it pass), will put the church on the path of fully embracing homosexuals in all areas of ecclesiastical life. They see this as a new day and a hard fought victory.
  2. This changes nothing: Others are saying that both scripture and especially the church’s confessions explicitly and undeniably affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman and that homosexuality is sinful. In short, the “fidelity and chastity” amendment just reinforced already clear church policy (a major complaint against its initial adoption was that it was repetitive) and its removal does not change what is clearly stated elsewhere. Nowhere does scripture, the confessions or church law as it currently exists state that marriage is anything but between a man and a woman or that homosexuality is acceptable.

How it will play out on the ground
I do not believe that there will be a mass exodus of congregations or members from the church. One of the reasons the amendment passed is that the congregations that were going to leave already left (about 100 out of about 11,000). Individual members tend to care more about what it going on in their local congregation than national policies.

I do believe that this debate has been sapping the life out of our denomination and diverting precious energy and resources that should be going to evangelism, mission, congregational development and dramatic ministry. If we can put the debate behind us, hopefully we can focus more on living out our faith as the body of Christ than on bickering over who may be part of that body.

Many, many congregations are already ordaining practicing homosexuals – usually well respected members of the congregation in stable, long-term relationships who are seen to be blessed by gifts for ministry. Hopefully now these congregations will no longer risk the chance of being dragged into church court by anonymous and often far distant accusers. The same is true for presbyteries. These congregations and presbyteries will continue as they have been, confident in their interpretation of scripture and the confessions.

Despite the passage of the new language, many, many congregations and presbyteries are still reluctant to ordain practicing homosexuals. They will continue as they have been, confident as well in their interpretation of scripture and the confessions.

And some congregations will find that a gay couple wanders into their church and stays a while. They share in worship. They bring good food to the pot luck. They participate, or maybe even help lead, a Bible study. The nominating committee will meet and someone will say, how about her or him. And somebody else will say, why not. The slate will go before the congregation. And only later will they realize they have done something that a few years before could have landed them in church court.

Official PC(USA) Announcement
Article in the Presbyterian Outlook, an independent Presbyterian newspaper
Pastor Fritz's sermon on homosexuality and the church from September 2009
The blog posting on this topic two years ago

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Russian Mini Concert at CPC

Last Sunday after church, CPC Music Director Elina Akselrud teamed up with Mezzo Soprano Zoya Gramagin to offer an amazing mini concert of Russian songs and arias. Check out the video of their final number below.

Zoya Gramagin with Elina Akselrud @ CPC Malverne from Fritz Nelson on Vimeo.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lenten Challenge: Read through the Psalms

“Just open the Psalms, to any page, and begin reading. Sooner or later you will find something that speaks to your situation, that seems to be speaking directly to you.”
- Kathleen Norris

A possible schedule for reading the entire book of Psalms during Lent:

Week 1: Psalm 1-25
Week 2: Psalm 26-50
Week 3: Psalm 51-75
Week 4: Psalm 76-100
Week 5: Psalm 101-122
Week 6: Psalm 123-150

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper - March 8 @ 6:00

Lent 2011 Series

This lent we will be focusing on prayer. Here is a tentative schedule of topics.

Lent 1 - March 13: Introduction, Lord's Prayer, Service of Healing Prayer
Lent 2 - March 20: Prayer in community. Special guest: Jason Storbakken, founder of Radical Living, an intentional Christian community in Brooklyn.
Lent 3 - March 27: Prayer through movement. Special guest: Roslyn Coors. Labyrinth walk after church.
Lent 4 - April 3: Table Prayer - the spirituality of food and family
Lent 5 - April 10: Prayer in the ordinary and mundane
Palm Sunday - March 17: Prayer in the Valley - a focus on Jesus' prayer life in the week before the cross.

In pastor's coffee house we will be focused on the Psalms.

Bowery Mission Trip - Nassau Joint Youth

Youth and adults from Malverne joined with five other churches in a mission trip to The Bowery Mission in New York City on February 24. Some of the kids helped cook lunch and sort through that day's food offerings. Others took sandwiches out to a local park and invited people into The Bowery Mission for lunch. A third group planned and led The Mission's noon chapel service. Then we went bowling at 300 Lanes in Chelsea Piers.

View a slide show:

View a video of the opening of the worship service. Warning: horrible singing from the one holding the camera.

Nassau Joint Youth Bowery Mission Worship from Fritz Nelson on Vimeo.

Souper Bowl Food Drive Contest

Over the four Sundays in February, the congregation of CPC Malverne, CPC Merrick and Middle Island Presbyterian Church challenged each other to collect the most food for the Long Island Council of Churches food pantries in Freeport and Riverhead.

Merrick, the smallest of the churches, won, collecting 553 food items, or a wopping 8 food items per church member! Languishing in last place, they took the lead by collecting 281 cans on the last Sunday of the month.

Middle Island, the largest of the churches, took second place, collecting 724 food items, or 7.1 food items per church member. In second place going into the final Sunday, they maintained their position by collecting 265 food items on the last Sunday of the month.

Malverne, who was leading going into the final Sunday, collected only 41 food items going into the final Sunday of the month, ending with a total of 479 food items, or 5.71 food items per church member.

Combined, the congregations collected over 1,750 food items for the Freeport and Riverhead food pantries!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ask an Expert Parenting Worships

Community Presbyterian is partnering with Little Blessings Christian Preschool to offer a series of Thursday night workshops for parents of toddlers and preschoolers. All workshops start at 6:30 and include pizza dinner and child care.

Here's the line-up:
February 17 - Child Development 101 w/ Bonnie Piotrowski, Director Little Blessings
March 3 - God in the Home: Spiritual Practices & Tough Questions w/ Pastor Fritz
March 17 - Raising Healthy Children w/ Dr. Joseph Rozenbaum, LI Pediatric Group
March 24 - Disciplining with Love w/ Ilene LoCastro, CPC Counseling Center

The registration fee is $15/workshop/family or $45 for all four.

Register Online

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Congregational Priorities 2011

Priority#1: Congregational Fellowship

Bringing the congregation together across generations outside of worship

Potluck lunches & dinners
Movie nights
Mission projects
In home gatherings

Sign up for this priority!

Priority #2: Little Blessings Christian Preschool
Reaching out to as many families as possible with the goal of filling the preschool and then inviting those families into CPC's ministry and worship.

Sign up for this priority!

Priority #3: Welcoming Visitors

Inviting visitors in
Welcoming our guests once they arrive
Deepening our guests faith
Integrating our guests into our ministry and worship

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