The Stone News for November 2004
Pastor's Message for November
Last Sunday, my impromptu sermon was about encouraging you to record your "History with God." To give you an idea about what I meant by that, I shared my own "History with God." One of the books that I cited as being important to my faith was The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul. Therese lived for only twenty-four years. She was not widely known beyond the small circle of her family and the religious order where she went to live when she was just fifteen. Her autobiography, published in English in 1957, is known around the world. One could dismiss her words as the musings of a young Pollyanna, one who was sheltered from the harsher vicissitudes of life. But Therese wrote her reflections when she knew that she was suffering from a disease that would soon take her life.
There is one short paragraph that captures her spirituality, her sense of trust in God."I believe that if a little flower could speak, it would tell very simply and fully all that God had done for it. It would not say that it was ungraceful and had no scent, that the sun had spoilt its freshness, or that a storm had snapped its stem - not when it knew the exact opposite was true."
I marvel at the simplicity and the clarity of Therese's faith. What is incredible about her little book is that while it was never meant to be a book in the first place, her writings have been gathered together and then dispersed around the world to offer hope and encouragement to literally millions of people. People like you and me have received gemstones of hope in the middle of our own crises.
That is one of the reasons that I would like to repeat my encouragement from Sunday for you to record, to reflect upon, and then to share with one another, your own "History with God." Write down your recollections of the people, places, events, books, favorite Bible verses, crises, joys, and sorrows through which you have come to understand God and your relationship with God. Recording and sharing your "History with God" will reinforce your own faith understanding and will, in some unexpected way, offer hope and clarity to others on their faith journeys.
May God bless all the history writers in our midst with openness to discern, and with confidence to share, the precious story of your relationship with God.
Pledge Packets Mailed
By now, you should have received your Stone Church 2005 pledge packet; inside is a letter from Rev. Art Mills, a green sheet from the Stewardship Board, a salmon sheet with information from Session moderators, an authorization form, your 2005 pledge card, and a return envelope.
The pastor's letter emphasizes the concept of total stewardship at Stone, why it is important to pledge, and how to decide the percent of your income you want to set aside as a priority for God's work.
The green sheet outlines the pledge process, things to consider when determining your pledge amount, and what others give to support the Stone budget. The back of the green sheet provides the rational for the 9% increase request.
The salmon sheet has summaries of the 2005 goals of each Session board.
The authorization form is for continuing or starting automatic withdrawal of your pledge from your bank account.
Please use the pledge card and return envelope to make your financial commitment to Stone Church for 2005.
During October, the pace of facility renovations quickened and became highly visible. All work on Lincoln House is nearing completion. The church offices will move in mid-November. (When the move is complete, the address of Stone Church will change to that of the Lincoln House - 1937 Lincoln Avenue.) The new composite shingle roof is beautiful. The individual offices and workroom are almost three times the size of the previous space. The telephone and computer network wiring runs through the basement, an HVAC unit is in the attic, and ADA-compliant bathrooms are behind the workroom.
In the main building, the Spanish tiles have been replaced on the roofs of the old covered walkways, which are now enclosed as part of the Social Hall and Nursery. Framing has been completed for the kitchen, the four bathrooms, and the art window to be mounted in the center of the south wall of the Social Hall (watch for this stunning new feature). Bathroom rough plumbing is finished. A new doorway has been cut to provide a straight, handicap-accessible hall between the Sanctuary and the Social Hall. Some of the exterior concrete has been poured.
The next major activity will be the demolition of the old offices and the Chapel, in preparation for their conversion into four church school classrooms.
Families: Would you like the holidays to be different this year?
Mark Saturday, November 20, 10 am to 2 pm, on your calendar now and sign up to be part of our alternative celebrations workshop.
How can your Thanksgiving focus on gratitude for God's bountiful gifts? How can you help your children expand their thinking about Christmas gifts and become sincere in their caring about others? How can you escape the snare of commercialism and enjoy preparing for and celebrating the birth of Christ, the real purpose of our Christmas? Can the New Year be an opportunity to put away the regrets and anxieties of the past and prepare for a better year ahead?
Make this year different by intentionally choosing a few new ways to prepare and celebrate those holidays.
The plan for the day includes large group activities, separate sessions for parents and young people, and opportunities to share with others, and individual family planning. Also included are a pizza lunch and resources to take home that will enrich your experience of the holidays ahead. Child care will be provided for the little ones. Register your family in the office or on Sundays, no later than November 14. The cost is $15 per family.
What a glorious October day! Though it started out cloudy and rainy, it was warm and sunny by the time the 16 golfers arrived to play at The Villages Golf and Country Club in Evergreen for the ninth annual Stone Church tournament. Since the players represented all levels of golfers, teams with the lowest and highest scores were recognized. Also recognized were those men and women who claimed the longest drive and closest-to-the-pin awards.
The golfers were also eligible for many wonderful donated prizes. Lucky winners went home with gift certificates for our own Siena restaurant, dollars-off coupons for Lincoln Avenue Round Table Pizza, a gift certificate for Willow Glen Books, a meal at Aqui, six golf clubs, boxes of golf balls, and many more prizes. Once again, Willow Glen neighborhood merchants and Stone Church members were very generous in providing many of the prizes, and the golf tournament organizers are grateful for all of this support. So, as you shop and dine, please remember the following merchants who provided monetary support for our tournament and thank them by supporting them with your business!
Siena, A Mediterranean Bistro
And be sure to mark your calendars for next year's tournament on Saturday, October 8, 2005.
Church School Donates Small Herd of Goats to Heifer Int'l
Thanks to the great support of the church family, church school students have currently raised $1426 to help Heifer International provide goats to families around the world. At $120 per goat, that's almost 12 - certainly a small herd!
One third of the church school offering for 2004, added to the quarters in the students' Quarter Tower, will increase the total. So parents please remind your children to demonstrate their love for God and others by regularly bringing quarters and/or using their new offering envelopes to increase the herd of goats!
High School Youth Group Works and Plays at Westminster Woods
The weekend of Oct. 15-17, a group of six young people and three adults traveled to Westminster Woods, where they worked hard and played hard too! High schoolers Max Frohlich, Emily Mertens, Rachel Buckley, Laura Kate Anderson, Jon Lou, and Gordon Meacham were accompanied by adult leaders Art Holtz, Suzanne Wolf and Anne Storer. All day Saturday they worked on restoration projects in the Challenge Course area, and most of Sunday, they faced personal and team challenges on the Challenge Course itself.
The work part of the trip began at 9 am on Saturday when the Westminister Woods Challenge Course facilitator gave them four to five projects. The group thought they'd be lucky to finish one project but in the end they completed all of them (lots of digging and hauling and very little complaining were involved!).
Time for play came Sunday on the Challenge Course, where there were many moments of fun, excitement and terror (at least for one of the adults), along with some rain.
Westminster Woods was happy to have the help, and the group enjoyed memorable times in the beautiful woods: they swung through the forest on a zipline; new friendships were made and deepened; there was time for work and time for play, time to laugh and time to pray. It was a perfect weekend!
Adult Ed to Include Wide Variety of Classes
Adult Education will offer the following classes during the months of November and December.
Sermon Feedback - Butch Washington, Seminary Intern
Basic Bible - The
Parables of Jesus
This class will examine six of Jesus' parables, as recorded throughout the Gospels. In addition to scripture, videotaped lectures given by Dr. Ken Bailey, a noted Biblical scholar who has spent most of his life in the Middle East, will be used as a resource. Basic Bible Studies are intended to provide an opportunity for those who have never studied the Bible, who have not studied the Bible since childhood, or who just want a deeper understanding of the Bible.
Our Reformed Heritage - Reformed Theology and a Radical View of Community
Three basic questions about our faith are: "What is the Word of God?" "How do you know God?" and "How does God's redemptive power, in Christ, work in the world?" John Calvin (the father of the Reformed tradition) and Friedrich Schleiermacher (the grandfather of modern liberal theology) address these questions from radical perspectives of Christian community. This class will address the surprising approaches of these two men and consider their relevance to today's world.
Science and Ethics - Genetic Science: Promises and Pitfalls
Recent advances in genetic science and technology have outrun traditional ethical understanding, Biblical guidance, and legal precedence. This class will provide scientific background and religious orientation so that participants can make wiser ethical decisions in this complex and critical area.
Coming in January
Sign Up Now for Stone Church's Annual Snow Trip
Believe it or not, it's time to plan for the annual Stone Church Snow Trip. The date for the 2005 Snow Trip is Friday, January 28, through Sunday, January 30, 2005, at Zephyr Point Conference Center, Lake Tahoe. In order to reserve a room, you must pay for your accommodations by December 15, 2004. Here are the basic costs for room and meals:
Rooms: 2-person minimum, $132.00 for the weekend
Food: 5 meals (3 on Saturday; 2 on Sunday)
Sign up in the courtyard after church services, or call Mary or Mike Breuleux.
Extra Miles to Share?
Do you have frequent flier miles that could help send two church school leaders (a teacher and a writer/coordinator) to the national Christian Education conference in Vancouver, BC, in February? If so, please contact Rosaleen Zisch.
Biographies Of The Five New Session Members
Michael Donald serves on Buildings and Grounds. At one time, Michael lived in Pleasanton and attended the Presbyterian church where former Stone pastor Bob Vogt had been pastor. After moving to San Jose, Michael met his future wife, Maureen Ryan; when they church shopped, they felt rapport with Stone's community and were later married by Art Mills. Michael worked for the Alum Rock School District for 34 years, retiring as Director of Transportation and Safety.
Andrew Reynolds is chair of the Liturgical Arts committee for Worship. He says, "I find a great spiritual connection in being creative. Creativity flows from God's spirit into our being." Andrew was born and raised in San Jose. He and his wife, Heather, joined Stone in April 2004. Currently, Andrew is working on a BA in comparative literature and a teaching credential at San Jose State.
Ed Tablak is chair of Church and World. Ed and his wife, June, have been members of Stone since 1955. He was away for a few years in the early '70s, serving in the Support Agency of the national Presbyterian Church. He has been a member of every board or committee except P & A and was church treasurer for 17 years.
Judy West is chair of Membership and Evangelism. She was born in San Jose and baptized at First Presbyterian Church. She attended Foothill Presbyterian from childhood through 1992 and was an Elder and Deacon there. She joined Stone about 1994 and has been active in choir and Stewardship. She has taught kindergarten in the Evergreen School District for 33 years and performs in the Saratoga Community Theater.
Rosaleen Zisch is chair of Christian Education. Rosaleen was born in Scotland and came to the US on the Queen Mary with her war-bride mother. She has been a member of Stone for 25 years and has served as Christian Education part-time staff, a Deacon, and an Elder. She was Presbytery C. E. Chair and wrote curriculum for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is "semi-retired" after 22 years of teaching and is now a consultant in History/Social Science for the CA Office of Education and San Jose State and a supervisor for Secondary Education.
The October Session meeting was held at the Tablak home, which during construction has become a backup meeting place, through the Tablaks' graciousness. Ed Tablak opened the meeting with prayer.
The Clerk's Report was given. Presbytery delegates will be Rod Thorn and Catherine Amos.
Butch Washington's Seminary Internship was approved to continue until March 31, 2005.
Pat Magee, from the Facilities Task Force, gave an update on the remodeling effort. The tours of the Social Hall will continue. Walter Roach is deeply involved in the planning and progress of the kitchen. Permits are in place, and since a few problems have been resolved, the completion of construction will not be as late as feared, nor as early as hoped for. Pat also presented the idea of a Renaissance Celebration, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, 2005. Moderators were asked to present the idea to their boards, and then email suggestions to Pat Magee. The celebration should be a joy for all!
Ed Tablak, from Church and World, reported that they are revising their Charter and planning an interfaith walk and a table focused on opportunities and literature for justice and peace.
Dean Helms, from Stewardship, reported that 99% of 2004 pledges to this date have been received, with 2Þ months to go.
Sue Williams, from Nominating, reported that they would begin meeting in January 2005. If any boards have not identified their representative, they should do so as soon as possible.
Stan Searing, from Building and Grounds, reported that a problem with the women's restroom downstairs is being investigated.
Rod Thorn, from Budget and Finance, reported that per capita letters were sent and that the building fund was still in the black.
Gail Chaid, from Worship, reported that they are looking for new ways to recruit ushers for Sunday worship.
Bruce Raby, from Personnel and Administration, reported that pastor evaluation forms would be distributed very soon.
Christian Education reported that 12 high school students have been meeting every Sunday and that the middle school group will be attending a retreat in Hollister in November. Session was highly encouraged to visit the computer lab in the basement. A search for a new nursery assistant is underway.
Judy West, from Membership and Evangelism, reported that at the next meeting in November, this board would be working on technology ideas at the home of Walter and Debbie Roach.
The next Session meeting will be held November 9 in the new conference room/library, if it is ready for use; if not, the meeting will again be held at the Tablak home.
The meeting was adjourned with an insightful prayer given by Rebecca Kuiken.
To read the biographies of the five new Session members who took office on July 1, see the article above.
One of the most important functions that the Deacons provide at Stone Church is comfort and support at memorial services and receptions. Many Stone Church members attend these, but unless you have been a Deacon in the past, you may not be aware of what is involved. For anyone who may be interested in becoming a Deacon, here is a brief look at this uniquely rewarding opportunity to be of service at Stone Church.
Hilleguus Faber is Stone Church's Memorial Coordinator. She works with the family, the pastors, the Program Associate, and the Deacons to provide ushers and a guestbook attendant at the service, and a reception, if the family wishes.
Memorial receptions at Stone Church are guided by the family's wishes and by years of experience from past and present Deacons. Families often provide photographs and memorabilia displays. Deacon volunteers arrive several hours before the service to set up the food service tables, dining tables, and chairs, and to start the coffee and tea. Soon, other volunteers arrive with the refreshments; typically, this may include over 300 tea sandwiches, almost 400 cookies, and several large fruit platters.
A few Deacons usually stay in the kitchen during the service, to complete preparations, which include making gallons of fruit punch. Once the reception begins, Deacons serve coffee, tea, and punch, and refresh the food platters. Other Deacons help clear away the used plates and cups, and others wash and dry them. After the reception, Deacon volunteers also clean up the Social Hall and the kitchen.
This probably sounds like a lot of work, which it certainly would be, if only a few people volunteered and if none of them had done it before. However, with the help of other Stone Church members, each Deacon volunteers for specific contributions to the whole, under the Memorial Coordinator's expert guidance. The wonderful camaraderie shared, the thanks of the family and friends, and the deep satisfaction of performing a worthwhile service make for a rewarding and memorable Deacon experience.
Presbyterian Women News
All members of Presbyterian Women should remember to give their Thank Offering contributions to their circle leaders or to Sally Magee, PW Treasurer. This offering funds projects such as the Mission for Street Dwellers in Manila, Philippines, where an unused building will be renovated, and the Ahil Arab Hospital, in Gaza, Palestine, which supports basic health, obstetrical, and trauma care. A complete listing of projects to be funded can be found in Horizons, July/August 2004.
Presbyterian Women are currently in the process of pledging their support for PW mission and of contributing a per capita of $6.00 for the support of program at Presbytery and Synod levels.
Nov. 2, 9:30 am: Focus Group at the home of Liz Shandera.
Nov. 3, 1:00 pm: Amethyst Circle, at the home of Hazel James.
Nov. 4, 9:30 am: Emerald Circle, at the home of Margaret Brown.
Nov. 8, 7:30 pm: Sapphire Circle, at the home of Marilyn Gardner.
Nov. 9, 11:30 am: Lunch Bunch at the Taiwan Restaurant; call Ida Raby for reservations.
Nov. 11, 9:30 am: Coordinating Team; place to be announced.
Nov. 15, 2:30 pm: Book Group II at the home of Nancy Weiss; Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nofisi.
Nov. 18, 9:30 am: Bible Study with Marge Palmer, at the home of Dulcie Janzen.
Nov. 22, 1:00 pm: Book Group I at the home of Carolyn Clendenning; Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett.
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