Rev. Jeff Smith to retire in January
Friends and family of First Christian Church:
It is with both joy and sorrow that we share with you the news that, on January 14, 2018, our senior minister, Rev. Jeff Smith, will retire. We are excited for Jeff and Elaine as they prepare to take this next step in their journey, but, of course, we are also very sad to say goodbye to our dear friends. It will be difficult indeed to say farewell to the man who’s baptized our children, buried our loved ones, and seen us through so many blessings and sorrows over the last 18 years.
The next several months will be a period of great transition for our church family. We will be busy, of course, with the normal activity of this time of year in the church: congregational meetings, Thanksgiving, and the approaching season of Advent. We will also be working to prepare the church for Jeff’s departure and for the continuation of our ministry after he leaves.
How do we do that? We’ve already started, actually. The executive committee of the Board – which includes Board Chair Cathy Hamilton, Board Vice Chair Lisa Stoneking, Board Secretary Amanda Billy, and Board Treasurer Emily Madigan – met in October to discuss the path forward.
The first step we’ve taken is to create a transition committee, co-led by current Board Chair Cathy Hamilton and rising Board Chair Lisa Stoneking. This team is responsible for discerning the next steps for the congregation, including identifying guest pastors and, potentially, searching for an interim pastor. The transition committee meets weekly, and they will share their progress with the congregation through a variety of media, including this website, email, the newsletter, the bulletin, Facebook, and the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall.
Communication, consistency, and community will be more important in the coming months than ever. The Board, the transition committee, and church staff will be in regular communication with you. If you haven’t recently updated your contact information with us, please contact the church office to do that.
The first communication from the transition committee will be shared through email and on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts you’d like to share with the transition committee, please contact Cathy Hamilton or Lisa Stoneking, or reach out to anyone on the Board.
We look forward to seeing you at the congregational meeting this Sunday (November 19), the Thanksgiving meal on November 23, and the Hanging of the Greens on November 28. May God bless us all with wisdom and peace. Amen.
The Executive Committee of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Joy to the world!
We have a number of events planned throughout Advent, starting with the annual tradition of decorating the church for Christmas on the Tuesday evening following Thanksgiving, and running through Christmas Eve. We hope to see you during this joyous holiday season!
- Hanging of the Greens, November 28
- Christmas Dinner and Concert, December 5
- Christmas Cantata, December 17
- Christmas Eve Service, December 24
A note about worship
From December 3 – January 7, we will have just one worship service each Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. Small groups will meet after worship at 11:00 a.m. This change of schedule allows us to celebrate Advent as one community, and to simplify planning on Sundays like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
On November 19, after each worship service, the congregation will meet to review and vote on the proposed budget for 2018. These meetings are very important. The same information will be presented at each meeting, so you may attend either one, but we strongly encourage you to be present for at least one of them.
Are you in? [Stewardship Campaign]
A little history
Believe it or not, our church — First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Jacksonville, Florida — first took shape 134 years ago. This church is older than the Statue of Liberty, the Wall Street Journal, the Eiffel Tower, and Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
In this time of transition, it’s easy to forget the breadth and depth of our community’s roots. Change can be difficult and frightening, but it’s also inevitable and, more importantly, nothing our church hasn’t gone through many times before.
This longevity is not an accident. It is the direct result of good stewardship.
What is stewardship, anyway?
Stewardship is the management or care of something. When we talk about stewardship within the church, we generally talk about it in the Biblical sense: the intentional management of resources (all living things in and of the earth and everything they produce) on behalf of the rightful owner, who is God.
Your church leadership practices stewardship with the resources that come in throughout the year. When we presented the proposed budget at the congregational meeting on Sunday, we showed you our plan for the management of any of God’s resources that come to the church.
You practice stewardship, too, when you determine how to use the resources you accumulate.
God calls us to give back a portion of that which he’s given to us. Giving to the church is an easy and effective way to do just that. Our church participates in many ministries across myriad communities, including:
- First Christian Preschool
- Second Saturday Arts & Farmers Market
- Food drives for the Mandarin Food Bank
- Bear Ministry
- Angel Giving Tree
- Tailgate Market
- Caring Meal Ministry
- Health Ministry
- Meeting space for AA, NA, and Alanon groups; Boy Scout troops (and Girl Scouts in the past); and other local groups like the line dancers
By making a pledge, you help church leaders plan effectively for the coming year. We use your pledges to determine what to expect on a weekly and monthly basis so we can make better decisions about how to operate within our means throughout the year.
Without a pledge, we have to estimate, based on past giving, what the church might receive in offerings throughout the year. This is much less accurate, and it makes effective planning very difficult.
How much should I pledge?
Only you know what you can give. Remember: the dollar amount is not the most important detail of your pledge, and your pledge is not a contract.
We are called to give sacrificially. For some people, giving 10% is not a sacrifice. For others, giving 10% is impossible. How much you can pledge is between you and God.
What if I can’t give as much as I pledged?
While your pledge is a commitment to God and to your church family, it is not legally binding. If your circumstances change, you may certainly change your pledge, no questions asked. If you’re blessed with unexpected extra income, you’re always welcome to increase your pledge as well!
How do I pledge?
Complete the online pledge form at www.firstchristianjax.com/pledge, or complete a pledge card (available in the Narthex) and put it in the offering plate or turn it in to the church office. We need your pledge by November 12.
The following Sunday, November 19, the Board will present a revised proposed budget based on the pledges we receive. The congregation will vote on that proposed budget in congregational meetings after each service.
Is it really that important that I make a pledge?
The short answer: yes. It really is.
For 134 years, members of FCC have committed and recommitted to sustaining the church. That ongoing cycle of commitment is what this time of year — our annual stewardship campaign — is all about.
In the face of looming changes, and on the tail of another year of growth for our church family, we have the opportunity to say, as our congregational ancestors did before us, that we intend to stand with our community.
Today, you are the members, official and otherwise, considering the commitment. So here’s the question:
Are you in?
DWM Movie Event: War Room
The much anticipated DWM movie event War Room: Prayer Is A Powerful Weapon is scheduled for Saturday, November 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The cost is $5.00 which will go to their Local and Global Missions. Come learn more about the DWM and enjoy a good movie while you’re at it. Snacks and a potluck lunch will be provided.
Date: Saturday, November 18
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Send Love to Texas, Share Love with Florida
Our prayers are with our neighbors in Texas and along the Gulf who’ve been impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and with our neighbors close to home who’ve been impacted by Hurricane Irma, storms that will undoubtedly have ongoing effects in both of these communities for many weeks and months to come.
If you feel called to help in a tangible way, here are some ways you can do that:
- Donate to Week of Compassion, the relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. You can make a donation at http://www.weekofcompassion.org and designate ‘US Storms’ for 100% of your gifts to help communities rebuild after storms such as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
- Send CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets. Assemble a cleanup bucket – based on a prescribed packing list – for a family that will soon begin cleaning up the messes Harvey and Irma left behind. Send the bucket to Church World Service for distribution. Later, CWS will have a need for hygiene kits, as well, but the most urgent need is for these cleanup buckets.
For other ways to help, check out:
- The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of the Southwest, the regional church in that includes the churches and communities hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey.
- The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Florida, the regional church that includes the churches and communities hit hardest by Hurricane Irma.
Annual Dinner and Auction: ’50s Flashback
Join us August 6 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for our Annual Dinner and Auction! We’ll serve a delicious meal, bid on a variety of exciting items in both live and silent auctions, and enjoy fun and games.
Look for more details soon. We are currently collecting items for the auction. Please contact us or see Nicole Suggs for donation ideas and drop-off information.
We’ll have games, snacks, and prizes for kids of all ages. We’ll even have child care available after dinner so you can stalk your silent auction bids unhindered by little ones.
This is always a fun event for families, so bring your kids, invite your neighbors, and we’ll see you there!
Vacation Bible School: Hero Central
Join us June 19-23 for Vacation Bible School at First Christian Church!
Registration is open to children who’ve completed VPK through 5th grade. Some groups are full, though, so please email the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (904) 262-1662 to register your child.
Our VBS program is completely free; we only ask that you consider making a donation to help us cover costs.
Dates & Times: Monday, June 19 – Friday, June 23, 9:00 a.m. to noon.
Easter Sunday is April 16. We will have two services: our Sonrise service at 8:00 a.m. and our traditional Easter worship service at 11:00 a.m. Between the services, we will have breakfast and baptisms. Here’s the full Easter Sunday schedule:
8:00 a.m. Sonrise Service
8:30 a.m. Easter Breakfast
9:30 a.m. Baptisms
11:00 a.m. Easter Traditional Service
Church Clean Up Workday
Join us on Saturday, April 8, to help clean our church. We’ll start at 9:00 a.m. and work until 12:00 p.m. at the latest, and we have a wide variety of jobs we need done.
This is our annual spring cleaning day, when we prepare the church for Holy Week by cleaning the floors under the pews, wiping the wood trim in the sanctuary, scrubbing the bathrooms, and generally brightening the church.
Please sign up in the Narthex if you can join us so we can prioritize projects accordingly.