I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Search Committee for all of their excellent work in searching for the next Lead Minister of FCC. The Search Committee was comprised of: Cassandra Benton, Nate Bostic, Samuel Green, Rod Karr, Bob Phillips, Leann Sosamon, Jim Taylor, and was led by Tori Moore. The process was taxing and took longer than anticipated and I appreciate each members commitment to prayer and listening to where God was leading them.
At this point the candidate field has been narrowed to one candidate who has been asked to an in-person interview here in Clinton in mid-June. For the time being the Search Committee has concluded their work and have turned the final interview and selection over to the elders. The application process has been closed pending the outcome of the in-person interview. While we are very excited about this candidate, the in-person interview will be very important to determine personality, character, chemistry and fit with FCC. I would ask that all of us continue to keep FCC and its leadership in prayer as well as this candidate and his family.
With Pete’s interim ministry ending at the end of May and the uncertain future due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the elders are working on a new interim leadership plan and will be announcing that early in June. We continue to trust in God’s timing and placing the people in leadership at the right time for a powerful purpose. God has been very faithful with this in the past and we have no reason to believe that He will not continue. I have been very blessed with Pete’s ministry here at FCC and I would ask that if you too have been blessed then please reach out to him personally and express your appreciation.
Please know that even through this trying time of Covid-19 God is on the move in our church. Continue to look for ways to “be the Church,” look for way to be connected with smaller groups of people, be a mentor to send those from your group out to lead another group. Be the hand and feet of Jesus and let First Christian Church be your resource center, your launching pad, and the place where you are filled and renewed to go out to be in His service.
Blessing to each of you!
Chairman of the Congregation
Today, May 1, 2020 starts a new round of Shelter in Place in the State of Illinois. While some restrictions have been eased, others have been added and the social distancing requirements remain. Unfortunately, gathering together to worship will not happen for the foreseeable future. FCC will continue to provide inspiration, teaching and leading of your personal worship though our FaceBook page, our care tree remains in place, and prayer requests may be found on the FCC website. We are all looking forward to the day when we can celebrate our RISEN Savior again together as one body of believers.
With the church building locked tight you may be wondering what is happening with the business of the church. It is not a surprise that year to date giving at the end of April was 22% behind this time last year. Obviously, with all of our ministries operating on a limited basis our expenses are less, but we would still ask for your faithful giving during this unprecedented time. Gifts may be made on-line, through the mail, or dropped off at the office. Offerings received in the office will be counted and deposited on the last Monday of the month through the end of the Shelter in Place order. The Easter offering which will help fund summer capital projects at our building will remain open and your giving to this special offering is appreciated.
The worship team is making plans for how we will reopen our church under different scenarios. We feel it is unrealistic that the State of Illinois will allow large group gatherings at the first wave of openings and don’t want to be left scrambling to make plans at the last minute. We are committed to worship in community (whatever that may look like) as soon as possible.
Our Ministry Team continues to be in transition and it saddens me to report that Student Minister Ben Pertl, and Connections & Community Coordinator Lindsey Moody are no longer serving as a part of the paid ministry team. Both Ben and Lindsey will be staying in the community as will be active at FCC, but Ben is choosing to refocus his career toward teaching and coaching and Lindsey is refocusing her time and energy toward her family. FCC will be looking for a Student Minister once a Lead Minister is in place. Until then volunteers will continue to lead and direct our Jr High and High School youth. Lindsey’s job responsibilities will be divided up among volunteers and the current ministry team.
The search for our next Lead Minister continues but is showing very positive and exciting progress. The elders are in communication with two very well qualified candidates and anticipate holding extensive in person interviews in Clinton as soon as the Shelter in Place order is lifted. As soon as a final selection is made the candidate and his family will be introduced, and once we are meeting again together, will preach and a congregational vote will happen. The search committee is to be commended for all of their tireless work in this search. We would ask that you continue to hold this search, your leadership and these two candidates in your prayers. We truly believe in God’s timing for all of this and are striving to keep Him on the throne. God’s got this and Praise the Lord!
So until we are able to meet together again, stay safe, stay home, wear your mask in public, and rest in the grace, peace and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Blessings to Each of You
Chairman of the Congregation
Dear Family of FCC,
With the Governor extending the Shelter at Home order through the end of April, the leadership of your church feels it is important to communicate with you now about all that is happening during this unprecedented time. FCC is committed to its mission of:
Loving God – Building the Church – Reaching the World
During this time, when we are not allowed to meet together in our building, the ministry team has developed and is providing resources to guide us in Loving God through our personal worship. Please take advantage of the Monday – Friday morning Worship devotion found on our website and on Facebook. For those unable to access the internet, Allison will get you a printed copy of this devotion. Monday evenings there will be a “Look In” Facebook live session, Wednesday’s Samuel will host “Look Up” and Friday’s Pete will host “Look Out” all at 7:00 on Facebook. Sunday mornings, check out Pete’s sermon at 9:00. As we strive to Build the Church, a care tree has been put in place to help identify needs and to be of support during this time that is so difficult for so many. The Neighborhood Care Center continues to be a catalyst for Reaching the World locally, serving our neighbors with limited operations.
We are committed to making sure the mission and work of our church continues during this time when we are not allowed to meet together. In these times, look for creative ways to “be” the church, keep in contact with others and offer support and care where appropriate. Pray for those in need and for the leadership of FCC. Be faithful with your financial giving to the church. Gifts may be made on-line, through the mail, and dropped off at the office. Offerings received in the office will be counted and deposited on the last Monday of the month through the end of the Shelter at Home order.
Start now planning your personal Easter Sunday celebration of our RISEN Savior. Pete’s sermon at 9:00 will help facilitate your time of worship. Know that as soon as we can meet again corporately, we will celebrate God’s leading through this time of trial and we will celebrate together the RESURRECTION of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Each year, we collect a special offering at Easter and this year the offering will stay in-house and help pay for some of the estimated $30,000.00 of summer capital projects to our building. You may donate to this special offering on-line or by noting Easter Offering on your remittance.
The Shelter at Home order has unfortunately put a delay in the process of selecting our next lead minister. The search committee has been evaluating many applicants and, prior to this unexpected time, was moving forward in the preliminary interview process. They are expecting to soon begin presenting candidates for the elders to interview. This elder interview will be an extended in-person interview to take place in Clinton and will occur soon after the Shelter at Home order has been lifted. The leadership has always trusted fully in God’s timing in this selection process and is using this time to be in prayer asking for wisdom and clarity for this hire. Please join us in that prayer.
So until we are able to meet together again, stay safe and rest in the grace, peace and love of our RISEN Savior, Jesus Christ!
Blessings to Each of You
Chairman of the Congregation
I have appreciated the wisdom of Bob Russell for a long time. Below is a very insightful article recently written by Bob.
Church Attire – Human Tradition or Biblical Principle?
About 18 years ago, Kyle Idleman came to my office with a serious concern. Kyle was 26 years old and had been hired six months before to be on Southeast Christian church’s teaching team. He was a phenomenal young preacher, and our congregation was enamored with him. At the time, I had been the senior pastor of the church for 36 years.
Kyle got right to the point. “I know you’ve got this policy that anyone who preaches at Southeast Christian is to wear a suit and tie. But I don’t feel comfortable in a suit and tie. I feel like a hypocrite in a suit and tie. More importantly, I don’t think I’m relating to my generation in a suit and tie.”
Appropriate, respectful dress in worship was fairly important to me, so I responded, “Well, Kyle, we’re worshipping Almighty God here. If you went to visit the president of the United States, don’t you think you’d wear a suit and tie?” (I knew he wouldn’t have a comeback for that!) But he responded quickly, “I’d probably not wear a tie if the president were my dad.”
Wow! I wasn’t ready for that answer. I should have had a good reply for him, but none came to mind. What did come to mind was a question for me: “Was I standing on a Scriptural principle or stubbornly fighting for a man-made tradition?” This was not the first time I had confronted the issue of our dress code with the church staff, and I had been churning about whether or not to lower the standard.
Over the years, I had prided myself on being flexible about matters of opinion. In leadership seminars, I encouraged ministers to be willing to employ new methods and not hold on to ineffective traditions. I often quoted a slogan, “Methods are many, principles are few, methods always change, principles never do.” And, “In doctrine, unity; in opinion, liberty; and in all things charity.” I often insisted, “The church that doesn’t change, dies.”
But when it came to our dress code, I had remained inflexible. I asked myself, “Is this a mountain I want to die on? Am I willing to run the risk of losing a talent like Kyle Idleman over whether he wears a scarf around his neck in the pulpit? What does the Bible say?” Look up “suit and tie” in a Biblical study concordance, and it’s not there. I doubt if Simon Peter wore a three-piece suit when he preached on the Day of Pentecost.
After a long pause, I reluctantly conceded. “Okay, Kyle, you don’t have to wear a suit and tie when you preach, but be neat.” The staff dress code changed overnight. While it was a big topic of conversation in the congregation for a while, most everyone eventually adapted to more casual apparel at church.
One Sunday, after I had been retired for a few years, I was sitting in the audience when Kyle walked out to preach. I thought, “Boy, he looks particularly slovenly today.” He was wearing a wrinkled, untucked shirt, black jeans, and tennis shoes. But he opened the Bible and preached a powerful, Scriptural sermon on sexual purity. You could hear a pin drop.
At the end of his message, Kyle said, “Now if you have broken any one of these commandments from God, I want you to know God loves you, Christ died for you, He wants to forgive you, and wash you whiter than snow. He promised, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Then he surprised us by adding, “We’re going to do something different to close our service today. For those of you who wish to give or rededicate your life to Christ by baptism, rather than just come forward and go to a side room to be counseled, I want you to come straight to the baptistery. I’m going to walk right into the baptistery now just as I am.”
(I thought, “Well, he’s dressed for it!”)
Kyle continued, “And I’m going to ask you to join me there. Come as you are and express your desire to begin anew by being baptized. It’s warm outside. You can go home wet. You don’t need a robe or tee shirt. Come as you are to Christ.”
We stood and began singing. I watched in awe for an hour and fifteen minutes as 117 people came forward to be baptized! That was only one of three worship services that morning. I estimated that over 50% of those who responded were under 35 years of age. I was so glad I hadn’t made a Biblical principle out of a human opinion a few years earlier.
Here’s my point. There are all kinds of traditions that Satan has used over the years to divide believers, split churches, and make people miserable. Drums, individual communion cups, choir robes, carpet color, fellowship suppers, selling of sermon tapes…on and on it goes.
As we age, it becomes increasingly difficult to accept changes in methodology. (My most significant change over the last decade was moving from regular Cheerios to Honey Nut Cheerios!) If we’re not careful, we become hindrances to effective evangelism because of our negative, resistant attitudes. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we tie burdens around the necks of people that are too heavy to bear.
The next time the church you attend makes a significant change which you find objectionable, ask yourself, “Is this a Biblical principle or a human tradition?” If it’s a Biblical principle, stand firm and don’t waver. Be strong and courageous, and speak the truth in love. But if it’s a change in tradition, swallow your pride and make adjustments. There’s a great slogan in the Christian Church, “Where the Bible speaks we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent.”
I’m sure you are noticing some changes happening at FCC-Clinton. Whether it is the placement of information in the bulletin, where communion is served in the service, the method that the offering is collected, discontinuing of long held programs, or having women leading in worship, remember to evaluate: is your stress caused by a long held tradition being changed or a Biblical principle being challenged?
CHANGE FOR LIFE: Pick up a baby bottle and fill it up with your loose change for the New Life Pregnancy Center. Last year FCC gave over $5,000 through this campaign. Let’s top that this year! If you are writing a check please make that out directly to: New Life Pregnancy Center and your tax receipt will come directly from them. All bottles should be returned no later than March 8th. Contact Ann Marie Hubble or the church office with any questions.
ALL CHURCH PIZZA POTLUCK: Please join us for a night of fun, fellowship, and yummy pizza on February 9 at 5:30pm in the Family Life Center. Please bring your favorite pizza and 2 liter of soda to share. This event is open to everyone so please be sure to invite your friends, family and neighbors! The Annual Report will be available for first pick-up at the potluck. If you have any questions please call the church office or email. We hope to see you there!
Chairman of the Congregation
A new year is off to a fast start and we don’t want you left behind! Here is an update on what the leadership is working on:
SEARCH UPDATE: The leadership is putting a high priority on the search for our next lead minister. As anticipated, several additional resumes were received during and just after the advent season. While we will continue to accept and evaluate resumes until a minister is selected, a soft deadline for accepting resumes is January 15, 2020. The search committee is busy listening to sermons and checking the social media of the candidates that have applied and will present to the elders their top candidates to interview. We will not settle for a minister that God is not leading us too. Should none of the current applicants be the right fit for our church the search will continue until the right person is found.
ANNUAL REPORT: We are again preparing an annual report which should be ready for distribution at the All Church Pizza Potluck on February 9. This report will again be a summary of the ministries of 2019 as well as the financial highlights. As a teaser, I will tell you that God is good and our church is blessed, our financial giving exceeded our MAP need by more than $27,000. Praise the Lord, and thank you for your faithfulness in your financial giving.
Tonight January 13th: FEED ministry cook night at 5:30 in the new kitchen. This is a great opportunity to build relationships with your church friends and bless others who have a need.
Wednesday January 15th: First Kids Youth Group and JH Underground Student Ministry are back at 6pm.
Wednesday January 22nd: Adult Choir practice resumes at 6:30. Everyone is welcome! Come join us in singing, praising and worshiping the great God we all serve.
Sunday January 26th: New Attender Meet & Greet, at 9:30am in the sanctuary foyer. This is a great opportunity to meet our ministry staff and be given a special tour of our building. Invite your friends to join with you in learning more about what FCC is all about.
January 31st: Little Galilee Retreat for 1st-3rd grade students begins at 6pm at LGCC.
February 9th: Save the Date: All Church Pizza Potluck at 5:30 in the Family Life Center.
Finally it is with sadness that I am to inform you of the resignation of Jen Jacobs as our Financial Administrative Assistant. Jen was a great asset to our church and will be greatly missed but we wish her much success in her new position with the school district. There is not an immediate plan to replace Jen in the office with another full time paid staff. Her work load will be divided between current staff and volunteers. This plan will require a change in the church office hours which will now be Monday – Thursday from 8:30 until 4:30 and the office will be closed on Friday’s.
Chairman of the Congregation
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Are you still committed to those or have they already gone by the wayside? I actually don’t make New Year’s resolutions, while in concept sound like a great plan, I know for me they are not a strong enough motivator to change an embedded behavior. While I don’t make New Year resolutions there are things that I am very resolute with. In May of 1968 I was baptized and from that day I have been committed and resolute in my relationship with Jesus. That relationship has changed, developed and matured through the years but it began with a resolution to love Jesus with all my heart. Even at the young age that I was, this was not a flippant commitment that could be forgotten or negated. So why has this resolution to love Jesus with all my heart been so different than a New Year’s resolution? I believe it is because this is a relational commitment. Jesus loves me more than I could ever understand or love him in return. He is loves me so much that He died for me removing all of my shortcomings from God’s eyes and opening the gates of Heaven for me. Jesus is my constant companion and friend and He will never leave me and therefore I will never leave Him. I remain resolute to love Jesus with all my heart. This is one resolution that we should all keep. Happy New Year!
MEN DON’T FORGET & PLEASE COME: The Area Men’s Fellowship will be held at Clinton FCC tomorrow night (Tuesday January 7th) at 6:30 up in the Family Life Center. This is always a great time of fellowship with men from our surrounding churches. Our Kitchen Team has a great meal planned and there will be a offering taken for Little Galilee. Dr. Paul Boatman will be speaking and this will be a evening not to miss!
FEED MINISTRY will be cooking in the upstairs kitchen on Monday January 13th in the Upstairs kitchen starting at 5:30. This is a gender neutral evening and a great service opportunity.
MEET & GREET Are you new to FCC? If so, we would live to meet you! Please join us on January 26th at 9:30 am in the sanctuary foyer for the opportunity to meet our Ministry Staff and be given a special tour of our building. If you would like to attend, please call the church office or email firstname.lastname@example.org just so that we have enough resources prepared. We hope you will join us and bring your friends with you!
Chairman of the Congregation
Yesterday the choir, Dinelle, Samuel and Allison led us in worship. Yes, the melodies and harmonies were beautiful, but did you hear the words? Did you hear the complete story of Jesus from birth to resurrection? Did you come and worship the new born King? As one who enjoys singing, I have the opportunity to actually read the words to songs and internalize them. These words have enhanced my worship this Christmas season:
Where is He, oh where is He?
His start blazes in the night;
As we trace the changing skies,
He is hiding from our sight.
Can you tell us where He Lies?
We would worship Him tonight,
And will journey till we find,
And our search is turned to sight.
Your guiding light shows us the way,
We see your Morning Star ascend!
To You dear Christ, all searches come,
In you our journey finds its end.
The star beams its golden ray
Over sleepy Bethlehem,
Where with joy we find the child,
And with gifts we worship Him.
While we thought we came to You
In a little star lit place,
It was You who came to us,
Christ, the glory of God’s face.
Carol M. Hodge
This song is sung from the perspective of the Wise Men, but can’t you see how it parallels our own journey of coming to Christ. We look for Him, we seek Him, and He shows us the way with His light. We go to Him, and are excited when we find Him, and we worship Him. All the while, we are thinking that we came to Him, and the reality is that He loved us so much that He came to us! Christ, the glory of God’s face.
Another special worship opportunity will happen at our Christmas Eve services. Plan now to attend and bring your family and friends to our services to be held at 4pm and 6pm on December 24th. Both services will be identical. For many in our church Christmas Eve is a family tradition that keeps the true meaning of Christmas in the holiday. If this is not your tradition, won’t you plan on starting this year to make Christ your focus during this season? There is not an easier or better time to bring those who have drifted away from their relationship with God back to renewal than Christmas Eve.
Remember the men’s mission trip and the search committee in your prayers this week. The men are in Mexico building two houses and are short a worker or two with a couple of last-minute cancelations. Pray for their safety and success in completing the houses on time but also pray for their spiritual growth as they work together in Jesus name. The search committee will be reviewing the initial submissions of resumes and contacting those who have applied with a progress update. Pray for the committee’s discernment through this process.
Chairman of the Congregation
Glory to God in the Highest, Christmas at FCC! Many thanks go to Mary Holland and her crew for our beautifully decorated tree and decorations around the building. Their service honors God, enhances our worship, and brings all of us to a place where we can celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
There are several upcoming unique worship opportunities where you may worship the coming of the infant King. Next Sunday during both morning worship services the choir will involve the whole congregation in a worship experience with songs, bells, and readings telling the Christmas story in a unique and meaningful way. You are encouraged to invite your friends and neighbors to hear the Christmas story told through music and the word.
Plan now to attend, and bring your family and friends to our Christmas Eve services to be held at 4pm and 6pm. Both services will be identical. For many in our church, Christmas Eve is a family tradition that keeps the true meaning of Christmas in the holiday. If this is not your tradition, won’t you plan to join us this year and focus your heart and mind on the wonderful gift of Christ’s birth? Christmas Eve can also be a wonderful time of renewal for those who have drifted away from their relationship with God. Is there someone in your life whom God has laid on your heart to invite?
The 2020 MAP was approved during the congregational meeting yesterday by a vote of 216 to 10. As explained during the meeting, the finances of Clinton First Christian Church are strong. We have experienced a decline in giving since Greg’s departure, but we continue to be debt free and carry strong cash balances on our balance sheet. Even with the decline in giving we have a positive net revenue for this year. We are asking that you prayerfully consider an additional year-end gift to make up for our giving decline. Please look for a complete report of the church’s finances after the end of the year in the annual report.
Chairman of the Congregation
Please continue to pray for the committee searching for our next lead minister. The committee is being led by Tori Moore and consists of Cassandra Benton, Nate Bostic, Samuel Green, Rod Karr, Bob Phillips, Leann Sosamon and Jim Taylor. This committee has been meeting regularly, and they have started the process of soliciting for and receiving resumes of potential candidates to fill our pulpit. Part of the process of soliciting resumes is providing information about our church and the position. The search committee and the elders have developed a church and candidate profile which answers many of the questions that a candidate might have, but the committee is also charged with providing additional information that might not be included in the profile. Additionally, the committee is currently using the profile to develop screening criteria that will be used to provide the elders with the top candidates to interview.
Because of the nature of the search and the need to maintain confidentiality with the prospective candidates, we will not be able to share a lot of specific information about the applicants. I can tell you that we have already received a couple of resumes and have contacted several others who are praying about this opportunity. What we want everyone to know is that the window is now open for those who would like to apply. Spreading the word is something that everyone can help with. If you know of Godly men who are strong leaders and articulate God’s Word in a powerful way, and you feel this person would be a good fit for our church, then we encourage you to invite them to submit a resume. Please remember to be sensitive to this person’s current situation, contacting them privately and not on social media. The church and lead minister profile is available for you to have and pass along at the Welcome Center, on the church’s website and in the church office. Resumes should be returned to the attention of the search committee at the church’s address or the search committee’s email that is listed on the profile. If you would prefer for the search committee to contact your individual, please forward his name and contact information to Tori Moore or Cassandra Benton, and someone from the committee will reach out to them to gauge their interest. While we continue to work in God’s timing, we have set a target of mid to late January to have resumes collected so that we may begin interviewing in early February.
You may help by telling those in your network about our open position, but more importantly: Pray! Pray expectantly knowing that God has a plan and He is already preparing who He wants to be our next lead minister. Pray for the leadership as we strive to listen for where God is leading in this time of transition. Pray for the search committee and their discernment in this process. Pray that in all things God will be Glorified!
During your prayers of Thanksgiving this week lift up a special prayer of thankfulness for Pete and his leadership during this time of transition. A lot of specific things fell into place so that Pete was available. Know that I see this as God’s hand at work, and this gives me reassurance of God’s faithfulness and the expectation of His continued blessings in the next season.
In addition to Pete, be thankful for all of the staff members. I am so privileged to be able to see how hard they work in their own respective ministries, and each has gained my respect and admiration. Each lives out being the hands and feet of Jesus, and they continually show His love to others and desire everyone to know Him in a personal and profound way. Each is the example for all of us on how to bring someone to Jesus - not just telling us about Him. I love our staff and they are doing a great job.
Don’t forget that the bi-annual congregational meeting to approve the MAP is at the end of both services on December 8th.
Wishing you all a very blessed Thanksgiving!
Chairman of the Congregation.
Last Monday evening we held our annual MAP informational meeting and unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Thank you to everyone who made the special effort to attend and to those who the weather kept at home we understand and appreciate your wisdom. I am available to answer any specific questions that you may have with regard to the 2020 MAP, but for now let me give you some of the highlights from last Monday’s meeting. The 2020 Ministry Action Plan that is presented for your approval on December 8th totals $943,789 which statistically is no increase over our current year. Of this total, almost 20% goes to support our benevolent ministries of Missions and the Neighborhood Care Center. Financially our church continues to be very strong and debt free. Current year giving is trending lower than last year but we fully expect for this year’s giving to fully fund this year’s MAP with some extra to add to our cash reserves. There are several capital and deferred maintenance projects that are not included in the MAP but instead will be funded out of cash reserves.
While we are on the topic of money, each year FCC collects three special offerings (Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas). This year our Thanksgiving offering will go to the Clinton Area Ministerial Association. CAMA funds help provide financial crisis relief to families in DeWitt County, Maroa, and Heyworth. CAMA funds are run through the Neighborhood Care Center where our goal is to not only provide some financial relief to families but to also cover them in prayer and love them in the name of Jesus. Would you consider making a donation to this wonderful ministry and partner with us in making a difference for the Kingdom? More information will be coming about the Christmas offering but it has been designated toward the purchase of a van at the Friendship Center.
There are a couple of special services coming soon. This Friday, November 22 is the Rooted Celebration at 7:00pm. Won’t you consider coming and supporting those who have just completed this ten week experience? You will be blessed with their stories and encouraged by the ways God is moving in our church. Next Sunday November 24th is the annual community Thanksgiving service at 6:00. This service of Thanksgiving will be at FCC this year and Dinelle is coordinating the service. We have much to be thankful for, please come together as a community of believers to celebrate His blessings.
Make sure you are in attendance this Sunday for a Lead Minister Search update!!
Chairman of the Congregation
Weekly update on what's happening at FCC! Glad you're here!