Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I write to you on Friday, November 17, with another edition of our Friday News Note. I trust you are well in the Lord and in good spirit.
Church Office Thanksgiving Closure: Please note as we look ahead into next week that the church office will be closed on Thursday November 23 and Friday November 24 in observance of Thanksgiving Day.
Georgetown Ecumenical Wholeness Service This Sunday: The Georgetown Ecumenical Wholeness Service meets this Sunday, November 19, at 6:30 PM in the SGPC Sanctuary. The theme for this reflective and meditative service is “From Anger to Peace”. Ginger Mann produces this service for the greater Georgetown Christian community and all who come seeking to worship.
Israel, Gaza and the Palestinians Wednesday November 29, 10:00 AM: Your SGPC session has approved the Rev. Dr. Andy Dearman to give a presentation on the war currently being waged between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The presentation will take place on Wednesday, November 29, at 10:00 AM. As many of you know, Andy holds a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies and has travelled, taught, and participated in archeological digs across the Middle East for decades. Andy is well versed in the ancient and modern history of this turbulent region. In Andy’s own words: “This presentation will provide some historical and cultural data on the Gaza Strip, its Palestinian inhabitants, and its connections to the state of Israel. While the names Gaza, Palestine and Israel have millennia of historical usage, this presentation will concentrate on the events of the 20th and 21st centuries that have shaped these entities and contribute to current, tragic circumstances.” Andy will present two roughly 45-min segments with a generous break in-between the segments to stretch and have some coffee. Ample time will be offered for questions and discussion. SGPC is very fortunate to have someone of Andy’s intellect, heart, insight, and experience to offer us some unbiased, non-political history and reasoned observations about this decades-long conflict. The presentation will be videotaped for those who cannot attend but would like to view. No sign up is necessary for this event. It is free and open to the public. Invite your friends.
Advent Adult Sunday School Class Begins Sunday November 26: It is custom at SGPC for Adult Sunday School to hold special classes in Advent and Lent that focus thematically on theological and biblical themes for these two special seasons in the Christian year. On Sunday November 26, Adult Sunday will begin a discussion of an Advent devotional book entitled Advent in Plain Sight: A Devotion Through Ten Objects by the Rev. Jill Duffield. Duffield is an ordained minister in the PCUSA and the former editor of the bimonthly denominational news magazine, The Presbyterian Outlook. She is currently senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. In her book, Duffield draws on ten ordinary objects that appear in the biblical narratives of messianic prophesy and incarnation – including gates, trees, cloth, light, and water. She explores these ordinary objects in other biblical passages and offers keen insight and questions for reflection at the end of each day’s devotional. I hope you will take advantage of the Advent season to grow deeper in your spiritual and biblical foundations as Christmas and the birth of the Christ child approaches. There is no sign up necessary for this class. Copies of the Duffield book will be available for you. Adult Sunday School meets at 9:15 AM in Room #4.
Stewardship Campaign Update: Stewardship Commitment Sunday was October 29. As of this writing, the church office has received 90 pledges totaling $376,686. For comparison, last year’s Stewardship Campaign final results were 103 pledges totaling $407,446. Though we have yet to reach a level of giving that will comfortably support the proposed 2024 budget, we are making very good progress! To date, per-pledge amount is up roughly 5% over last year’s per-pledge amount. We are hoping for roughly 20 more pledges to get to a level of reasonably affording our 2024 budget without dipping into reserves. Thanks to all of you who have made your financial pledge. If you have yet to do so, but intend to, please make a financial pledge to Jesus Christ and for SGPC at your earliest convenience. Plans are already underway shaping a church budget for 2024. In order to make accurate budget projections, the session needs to have as firm a grasp as possible on the congregation’s expected pledge base. Please give soon if you have yet to do so. There are several ways for you to make a pledge: by going to www.sgpcvolunteers.org and click on the “Pledge Card” icon, by going to the church website at www.sgpcgeorgetown.org and at the tiptop of the opening page click on “Pledge”, by emailing our church administrator, Ashley Brown, at email@example.com, or by calling Ashley in the church office at 512-868-0902. I thank you in advance for your generous consideration.
SGPC Christmas Cantata Sunday, December 3, 4:00 PM, Sanctuary: SGPC’s annual Christmas Cantata is scheduled for Sunday, December 3, at 4:00 PM in the church’s Sanctuary. This year’s cantata is entitled “Christmas Dreams: A Cantata” by Joseph M. Martin and Heather Sorenson. Sean and Jarka and our choir and musicians have been hard at work, already, preparing for this event. I hope you will make plans to attend as we prepare ourselves for the Advent/Christmas season through the inspiring medium of music, instrument, and voice.
- If you were unable to attend the presentation on palliative and hospice care by Chaplain Jeff Saddington, on the evening of Sunday October 29, the link to his presentation is: https://youtu.be/A2LOxxT74Pw. Keith Howell did the best job he could, but be aware that the sound quality of the video is compromised at points.
- You are very familiar with The Caring Place and Meals on Wheels, for which we can always use volunteers. But did you know that SGPC has three other ministries we support with our money and our backs and hands? These ministries are Helping Hands of Georgetown for which we make boxed dinners on the second Sunday of each month for our homeless and food compromised neighbors; Back Pack Buddies which battles hunger in our local schools; The Nest which is an after-school gathering of high school students, many of whom are economically and developmentally challenged. We give these organizations money on a regular basis from our mission giving. But on behalf of the Missions Committee, I want to encourage more and broader hands-on participation in these ministries. The body matters for Christians in so many ways, including being present in body to serve those in need. I encourage you to prayerfully consider serving in these ministries. Contact our Missions Elder, Susan Harmon, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on these ministries and directions for getting “bodily” involved.
- Thank you for your generous support of Presbyterian Women at SGPC who are sponsoring gifts for our Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Service Agency (PCHAS). If you got a tag last Sunday, please return your gift UNWRAPPED by Sunday, December 3. Last Sunday, the giving tree in the Narthex had many tags on it and by Sunday afternoon they were all gone! We had more folks wanting a tag and did not get one. The bottom line is that the tags displayed last Sunday on the tree were assigned to us by PCHAS based on their needs and criteria. We cannot produce more tags. However, please see another opportunity to help children in need in this News Note as our Missions Committee sponsors the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center for the holidays.
- Christmas Eve this year falls on a Sunday! On Sunday, December 24, we will gather at our usual 10:30 AM worship time for a Festival of Lessons and Carols. Later that evening, we will gather again for worship at 6:00 PM in the Sanctuary for a Candlelight Communion Service. Invite a family member and friend!
- Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center (WCCAC) Christmas Drive: Your Missions Committee is sponsoring a drive to support the WCCAC this holiday season. The WCCAC has asked for blankets, stuffed animals, and gift cards to HEB, Walmart, and QT for its clients in need. Gifts must be returned by Sunday, December 17. Blankets and stuffed animals can be placed under the Christmas tree in the Narthex. Gift cards can be placed in a box beside the Christmas tree noted for the WCCAC. The WCCAC does excellent work in supporting children, women, and families caught in the throes of physical and sexual abuse and violence. I hope you will give generously to this wonderful agency.
- Christmas Joy Offering 2023 Taken Sundays December 10 and 17: The Christmas Joy Offering is a denominational Advent/Christmas offering each year. The session has approved our yearly participation in the Christmas Joy Offering this year. The monies raised from the Christmas Joy Offering across the denomination go to support current and retired church workers through financial grants in times of demonstrated need, income supplements for retired workers covered by the Board of Pensions of the PCUSA, and housing supplements for retired workers covered by the Board of Pensions. In addition, proceeds from the Christmas Joy Offering support grants and scholarships to Menaul School in Albuquerque, NM, Presbyterian Pan American School in Kingsville, Texas, and Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. These schools were founded by Presbyterians and they attract a large number of students of color and lower income families who are the first in their families to have an opportunity for higher education. I hope you will give generously to the Christmas Joy Offering on Sundays December 10 and 17.
- SGPC Book Discussion Group Breaks for the Holidays: The SGPC Book Discussion Group led by Jarka Pederson is taking a break for the holidays. The next meeting of the SGPC Book Discussion group will be Thursday, January 18, at 11:00 a.m., in Room #4 in the Education Wing of the church’s building. The book to be discussed is entitled “Magic Hour” by Kristin Hannah. For planning purposes, registration to attend is appreciated at www.sgpcvolunteers.org – even if you have already attended in the past. You may also call or email the church office at 512-868-0902, email email@example.com, to register. All are welcome!
- Adult Sunday School: Adult Sunday School is currently engaging “The Wired Word”, a weekly current events based curriculum. “The Wired Word” takes weekly news events in the world and facilitates discussion and reflection of these events from a biblical and theological perspective. Adult Sunday School meets in Room #4 at 9:15 AM.
- Sunday Morning Volunteer Opportunities: The church always has need of volunteers to help run our Sunday morning life and work. Needed for Sundays are Ushers, Candle Lighter, Liturgist, and Coffee Helpers. Please go to www.sgpcvolunteers.org to register for these important service opportunities. I am very grateful for your consideration of these necessary weekly service needs.
Opportunities for Study and Fellowship at SGPC:
- Presbyterian Women Bible Study – Next meeting Friday, December 15. Meets third Fridays of each month, 1:30 p.m., church’s Library. Contact Carolyn Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-689-6490
- Men’s Breakfast Fellowship – Next meeting Saturday, November 25. Meets for breakfast the second and fourth Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. at Mulligan’s Restaurant in Sun City. Contact Albert Fox, email@example.com, 512-777-8961
- Women of Faith Bible Study – Next meeting Wednesday, December 6. Meets first and third Wednesdays of each month, 9:30 a.m., in Room #4. Contact Anne Kenter at firstname.lastname@example.org, 737-738-3054
- Pastor’s Bible Study – Meets weekly on Thursday afternoons at 3:00 p.m. in the East Wing of the Sanctuary. Contact Pastor Bill at email@example.com
- SGPC Book Discussion Group – Next meeting is Thursday, January 18 at 11:00 a.m., Room #4. Contact Jarka Pederson at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Life in Fellowship Together (LIFT) – Crafts-based fellowship group. Contact Linda O in the church office at email@example.com if you are interested in participating
That is all for now from here. Do good work!
Grace and Peace, Pastor Bill