Author: <span>Mary Pat Kleven</span>

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Happy Birthday, Church! Rev. Grace Anderson (Pastor Grace) will lead the Pentecost Sunday Services, in-person at the First Congregational Church. Services beginning at 9:30 a.m. Masks and social distancing as well as other COVID protocols will be required for the time being. For those unable to attend, the service will be recorded and posted early in the week.

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By unanimous consent, the First Congregational Church of Cannon Falls called Rev. Grace Anderson as their Designated Pastor.  She replaces Rev. Glen Herrington-Hall who retired April 30th, 2021.  Rev. Anderson will serve the church in a focused position for a two year term.  A designated pastor is eligible to move to a permanent call, if that is desired. Rev. Anderson went to the seminary after a career in television production; she has served at hospitals and hospices with a certification in grief counseling.  She resides in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota with her adult daughter and grand-kitty.

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This Sunday, May 2nd, the Rev. Grace Anderson will lead our worship and after the service we will convene a congregational meeting to consider issuing a call to Pastor Grace to serve a 2-year term as a designated pastor.

A designated pastorate is when a congregation calls someone for a specific period of time to serve as pastor with a particular focus. In this case, we would be asking Rev. Anderson to lead the First Congregational through a period of discernment about what our future might hold. A designated pastor tends to serve longer than an interim and also is eligible to move to a permanent call, if that is desired.

Please make every effort to attend the service and meeting afterwards. All necessary protocols involving masks, singing and social distancing will be in effect. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the church office.

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We are meeting in person again! Services are on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. Here are the guidelines that are in place.

For our safety, health, and comfort in worship, the guidelines below will be in place until the mandates and advice from the Minnesota Department of Health, the CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith, the Minnesota UCC Conference Minister, and related health and church professionals indicate otherwise. They were developed by the Reunion Team and made available to all members in the annual meeting information in January. They will be amended as needed as conditions change.

Face masks are required. Face masks will be provided if needed. Children under 2 yrs. of age should not wear a face mask. Persons who have difficulty wearing a face mask should consider not attending until masks are no longer required.
Please maintain proper social distance (6 ft.) from anyone other than those in your household, while entering, exiting, and sitting. Pews will be marked with tape at 2 ft. intervals; every other pew will be kept vacant. This means there will be no fellowship time after
services for the foreseeable future.
As you enter the building, there will be a sign-in sheet should contact tracing be necessary. As you enter the narthex, there will be a table with the bulletins for the day; take one. There will also be a box for offering; we will not be passing plates hand-to-hand at this
time.
Our heating system and the fans will not be in use while we are in the sanctuary. These only recirculate the air, which is not safe. The sanctuary will be heated prior to worship as needed and windows and doors will be open as weather permits.
Only one person at a time will be allowed to enter each restroom, unless the occupant needs assistance.
There will be no congregational singing until guidelines say that singing is safe again; we will have music, however. Spoken responses by the congregation should be done with soft voices.
It is recommended that indoor worship last no more than 40-45 minutes; the weekly liturgy has been and will continue to be adjusted to reflect that until the positivity rate, caseloads, and vaccination numbers indicate we are back to the best approximation of normal we can expect. The less time we spend in a room together, seated in a room with a closed system, even masked and distanced, the safer we will be. A Communion liturgy is being drafted that will allow us to again celebrate the Lord’s Supper monthly, hopefully by the end of April.

Services are being recorded and are posted later in the week; an email notification with the link is sent out to the church community.   To get on the email list to receive links to the services, contact outreach.cannonfallsucc@gmail.com or call the church office.

 

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Scripture: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; John 3:16-21

Eternal life is not the big prize at the end of our lives; it’s more like when we begin living. It’s when we find ourselves living in the light – in the presence of God here and now, as revealed in Jesus’ own life and teaching. Going toward the light is an act of faith, of trust; living in the light is where we witness to the one whose love is a longing to save all humanity.

 

 

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Life can change in an instant. And it does, for good or ill. God is in the change, in the movement between the before and the after.
But we can also be the change, and be the Gifts needed to make the difference between before and after. We can be “the gifts of God for the people of God,” for all of God’s people.

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O God of endings & beginnings, grant to our nation this day your bountiful blessing. We claim no special favor as a country, for that is neither our right nor your way. But in this moment so ripe with change and possibility, we have need of your power and purpose.
As our new President and Vice President are inaugurated this day, we pray upon them your deep wisdom and daily guidance. Grant them the courage to confront the daunting demands of this moment. Lend them your fierce passion for what is right and true and just. Commission them to be healers among us, unafraid to touch our collective wounds and stitch us back together. Grant joy enough to make the most difficult days bearable. Summon from them their best gifts in humble service to a greater good. And protect them, O God, from every danger.
O God of Love and Justice, call upon each of us as well. Make us partners with our leaders and with you in creating Beloved Community. Move us to lock arms in common purpose. Spark within us a renewed hope & a deepened commitment to service. Soften our skepticism and bridge our divides. Compel us to seek earnestly together that “more perfect union” our founders dreamed of, for all your precious children.
Through your ancient prophets you called nations and peoples to faithfulness and mercy, justice and peace. Demand no less of us now, Enduring Presence, but send us forward to seek the future you would have us build. Hear our confessions of the sin our nation carries; free us from the selfishness and greed and hate and violence that consumes us. Refuse our useless cries that “we are better than this” and strengthen our resolve to actually be better now.
You are our Help in ages past, our Hope for years to come. We trust in your abiding presence, and invite your transformation and renewal for our nation and each one who calls it home. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Written by Reverend Shari Prestemon on the eve of the January 20, 2021 Inauguration of Joseph Biden & Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States.

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