Pastor’s Blog for October: 50 Years of Church Newsletters!

Recently Toni noticed that this year we are writing, and reading, our 50th yearly volume of monthly church news-letters. Volume 1, Number 1 was published in May 1970 as The Church Organ of First Congregational Church, OCC’s old name. The Church Organ was originally published by Ethel Lawson and her husband Earl, then just Ethel after Earl died. By 2004, after the church’s denomination and name changed, Ethel was about 90 years old, and John Howell took over the newsletter and we re-named it The Messenger.

I smile at the dual meaning of Organ: yes, we cherish our sanctuary organ – and in the human body, an “organ” is a vital body part such as the heart or lungs – just as communication is vital to the life of the Body of Christ. Messenger can also have multiple meanings – yes, The Messenger is this collection of words we call a newsletter – and in the Bible a Messenger is an angel, prophet or other person who brings God’s good news to the world.

As we move through this 50th year of written communication I want to thank and honor John and Linda Howell for their consistency, persistence and dedication in publishing a quality work of communication eleven times a year, despite my and others’ forgetfulness of John’s deadlines and reminders. I think it was my first day in my office, September 15, 2004, or soon after, when John came to me with his big, what I’ve always thought of as his “Cat in the Hat,” smile. He informed me of my responsibility to write a “Pastors’ Page,” and that it was due on the 20th, and he has smiled at me monthly ever since. I have rarely written my part by the 20th, always running late (it’s September 27 as I write this), but John has managed to publish by the first of the month nearly every time despite me and other writers he usually has to chase down, and if it’s a day late, it isn’t his fault! THANK YOU JOHN! Bless you John and Linda! Thank you,Toni for your regular part!

Communication is a vital “organ” of church life. Communication keeps us alive. Let’s keep sharing what God is doing here at OCC in every way we can, as Messengers of the gospel of Jesus.
Our $2000 CovEnterprises grant from the Covenant was fulfilled this summer with the creation of a program that will allow Wakulima (Swahili for “farmers”), our area East African farmers association, some of whom are mem-bers of our church, to organize, communicate and collaborate in selling their crops and making a profit. CovEnterprises’ goal this year was to support economic justice projects related to small businesses and food supply issues among vulnerable people. Wakulima worked with a consultant, Hannah Spare, who supports them and other immigrant and refugee groups through her nonprofit AllFarmers. Hannah used the grant money to spend time with the farmers to discover what resources they had in common, given their diversity of educa-tion. They discovered that even those with little education and material resources had phones and used WhatsApp. Hannah developed a WhatsApp-based excel program that even those with low math or reading skills could use. Already, the program has been shared with other refugee farmers groups in our region and more, to everyone’s benefit in being able to better feed and support their families.
Praise God!. I’m so pleased and proud that we were able to participate in this grant program.