September 2014 - Wheat Ridge UCC
Balancing the Budget
the Rev. Emily C. Heath
Read John 6:1-15.
“Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples …. When he looked up and
saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these
people to eat?' He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.”– John 6:3-5
Churches love balanced budgets. It's true. Ask just about any congregation about the health of
their church and often before you even hear about discipleship or devotion you will hear about
whether the budget is in the black or in the red.
I understand why that's important. We are certainly called to be good stewards. But I have never
yet met a congregation who thought they had “enough.”
In John 6, Jesus has already amassed a public following. However when the crowds came to hear
him on the mountain his disciples looked out and saw not a blessing, but a problem. Jesus sensed
their anxiety and asked them, “How are we going to feed all these people?” Philip replied that it
would take six month's worth of wages for everyone to get even one bite. It seems that Jesus and
the disciples had not paid much attention to the line item for food in the first church's budget.
And yet, Jesus does something no one expects. When everyone else is stuck in a scarcity
mindset, Jesus is instead living in the abundance of God. He looks out, finds what the people are
willing to give, and blesses it so that it may be a blessing to others.
Maybe Jesus was trying to tell us something. Maybe, just maybe, we already have enough.
Prayer: God of abundance, give us gratitude for what we already have. Turn our hearts away
from worshiping bottom lines and towards celebrating the abundance that comes from you.
— Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Here at WRCC UCC our Budget Committee will soon be meeting. Their recommendations
will be presented to the Board of Trustees, who in turn will bring a proposed budget to our
entire congregation at the annual meeting on November 9. What differences might it make
if we all approach the finances of our congregation with a mindset not of scarcity, but of
Seeing the Forest — and the Trees!
Most of you know that we have a new baby in our family. Conner Wesley Anderson
was born on July 22 to Becky, Mark, and Isabella Anderson. Little Conner is really good
at eating and sleeping. He also spends time every day discovering how to interact with
the world into which he has been born. It’s fascinating to watch a newborn learn to
focus his or her eyes, react to sounds, recognize faces, and grasp objects such as a toy
rattle or a parent’s fingers.
Psychologists theorize that newborn babies make no distinction between themselves and their
environment. To a newborn, the constant stream of experience is simply an aspect of their own
sensations, their own existence. Over days, weeks, and months, an infant learns that many
important things in life, such as milk, dry diapers, warm blankets, and parents, are “out there”
and cannot be controlled simply by wishing or imagining. The images that hover in the baby’s
field of vision correspond to independently existing objects that sometimes make sounds or
that may be touched.
By the time they enter school, children can make a practical distinction between what is
imaginary and what is “real.” However the boundary between inner and outer reality remains
unsteady and blurred. Therefore children and even adolescents need to be protected from
movies, books, and TV shows that are too convincingly violent, frightening, confusing, or
Unlike children, we grownups don’t react to news about a plane being shot down by assuming
that all airplanes are unsafe, or to news about a grisly murder by fearing that there is probably
a murderer hiding under our bed tonight. We adults tell ourselves that we are “in touch with
reality” and that we are able to see the world as it really is. But just how accurate is our picture
of the world? How “objective” are we, really?
No matter what’s happening in our lives, we are engaged in an on-going act of interpretation.
Our view of things is always influenced by our overall outlook on life, by recent events and
present circumstances, by our current mood, and by the extent of our awareness of future
needs and possibilities. Moreover, it is human nature to focus on activities one by one as
shifting plans and tasks become relevant. This is necessarily how we deal with the world. And
yet, when we do begin to interpret life strictly as a flow of changing events and agendas, this
makes it very hard for us to see what we sometimes call “the big picture.” As the saying goes,
we may focus so consistently on the trees that we can’t see the forest. Consider some
A man has a bad day at work and comes home to find several unexpected bills in the mail.
The man becomes morose and declares that life is just one aggravation after another. His wife
reminds him, “But Honey, only yesterday you got a raise and said that life is great!” What
“interpretive principles” is the man employing?
A couple lapse into a hurtful argument because “someone” forgot to check the casserole in
the oven and dinner is now ruined. How is their view of the trees blocking their view of the
Jesus says, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees,” and the disciples think
he is talking about loaves of bread. What “big picture” are they failing to see? Why does Jesus
attribute to their impaired vision to a lack of faith? (Read Matthew 16:5-12 — which,
incidentally, Claudia preached about on Aug. 24.)
For thousands of years, one of the main functions of religion has been to provide people with
an interpretation of “the big picture” in life. Religious faith has addressed questions such as
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How is it possible to make sense of life’s jumble of ups and downs, its mixture of joys and
tragedies? Is there a way to integrate our days and years into a meaningful whole?
Is there any valid reason why we should be generous, kind, honest, and good? Wouldn’t it be
a lot easier, and more practical, to look out mainly for our own interests and let everybody else
do the same?
How may we find lasting hope despite life’s unavoidable hardships and the finality of death
itself? What are we entitled, ultimately, to hope for?
To be sure, the practice of religion often is interested in the “trees,” the details, of life—how we
treat other persons each day, various social issues, how we spend our time and our money, diet
and exercise that support our own health, etc. But, in the eyes of faith, these details are
interpreted as they are because of their part in the all-encompassing “forest” that is the source
of life’s higher purposes and deeper meanings.
Christianity addresses “big
picture” questions such as
the ones above by
affirming that there is a
God—a Creative Power—
who has brought order
out of primordial chaos
and who is creating still.
This same God is revealed
in Jesus Christ, our
Teacher and Redeemer,
and in the Holy Spirit, our
spiritual Companion who
brings us inspiration,
comfort, and guidance. I
do not claim that
Christianity is the only
“true” religion, but I do
believe that for those who
sincerely espouse the
Christian journey, that
journey becomes their life’s most deeply enriching and profoundly hopeful path to truth.
As your pastor, I like to think of our church as a place where we deliberately try to address life’s
deeper questions honestly, and where we strive to see the big picture—in the light of our faith
in God. I am grateful for each and every one of you! — because, so often, it is only in the
fellowship of our companions on the Way that we are able to see beyond the individual trees
and gain a vision of the forest as a whole.
New addresses, etc.
Beth Brown: 1315 Estes St., C15, Lakewood, 80215.
Jeri Mitchell: 11055 W. Exposition Ave., Lakewood, 80226. 720-271-8841, [email protected]
Mark and Becky Anderson: 8284 Eaton Way, Arvada,80003.
August Offerings and Attendance
Floral arrangement by Gabrielle Sherry
Average attendance during August: 48
We need $9,600 per month to balance
the budget. The total for August is the largest
we’ve received in a long time! However,
August totals include special donations for
our parking lot repairs.
In his great book Science and the Modern World, Alfred North
“Religion is the vision of something which stands beyond, behind and
within the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and
yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and
yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all
that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is
the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the
ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest.”
Whitehead recognized that many forms of religion have been crude,
superstitious, and harmful. Nevertheless, he said, when religion is at its
“The fact of the religious vision, and its history of persistent expansion,
is our one ground for optimism. Apart from it, human life is a flash of
occasional enjoyments lighting up a mass of pain and misery, a bagatelle
of transient experience.”
Parking Lot Report
One of the biggest capital improvement
projects our congregation has undertaken in
recent years is the reconditioning of our
parking lot. For some time the lot has been
deteriorating. This summer our Trustees
determined that the cracks were becoming
large enough to constitute a safety hazard
and that if the lot continued to get worse the
cost of repairs would greatly escalate.
With the help of Glen Stocking a low bid was
obtained from Coatings, Inc., of Arvada. On
August 3 the congregation approved the
Trustees’ proposal to accept this bid. Work
was begun on Sept. 3 and is scheduled to be
completed on Sept. 10. Note that the lot will
be closed all day on Tuesday, Sept. 9 and
until 4:00 p.m. on Sept. 10.
Due to the inspiring generosity of many of
our members, all the funds needed to pay for
the repairs have already been received.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED!
The re-surfaced lot will not only look great
but will be safer to walk on and easier to
Hi, everyone! We mice have enjoyed the summer and can’t
believe that school has already started and fall is just
around the corner.
Sarah Parkinson, McKenna Sherry, and Caitlin Mitchell have all started college, and
Rachel Joha has returned for her sophomore year. We are thinking of these young
women as they undertake this important chapter in life, and we are thinking of their
parents, too. We recently had a nice visit with Mary Todd. Mary says she misses
everyone at church, but in her mid-nineties it’s not always possible to get out on
Sunday mornings. Love to you, Mary.
Becky, Mark, and Isabella Anderson welcomed little Conner Wesley Anderson into the
world on July 22. Congratulations to the whole family! Charlotte Rubenking’s daughter
has had cancer treatments that have been successful. We send grateful prayers and
hopeful thoughts in her direction. Brandi Rail received a promotion at Cabela’s; she is
now in charge of the footwear department at the Thornton store. Good work, Brandi!
Chuck Parson has a one-person exhibit coming up at “Z Modern/Art Department,”
1136 N. Speer, beginning on Sept. 26. Chuck leads a busy life, and we are proud of his
achievements. On Sept. 14 Chuck will also be leading our Fall Kickoff for the Sunday
School program. Melissa and Russ Borneman will have a wedding reception in our
Fellowship Hall on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 2:00 p.m. All are invited. Yay! Congratulations
to Deana Carter and Rosanna Rains who had their wedding in Boulder on August 17,
with Rev. Claudia Schmitt officiating. Ro and Deana honeymooned at Niagara Falls! A
reception was held at our church on August 31.
Terry Packard had some symptoms of a stroke, but he seems to have fully recovered.
We are happy about that! Antares Jeffares-Whitehead went on a hiking trip in Glacier
National Park with a group from the Jeffco Open School. Glacier is a stunning park and
we bet Antares had a great time. Keith and Norma Daly were out of town for a funeral
on the weekend of August 24, but they have returned safely—which is a joy!
With deep sadness we report that Diane Schnabel, a member of our congregation for
many years, died on Saturday, August 23. We will miss Diane’s unique spirit, and we
send sympathy to her daughters Lorraine and Gretchen and to Diane’s entire family.
Kay Bailey is currently on a group tour in Ireland. Kay has been in Ireland before and
she says she already knows that she’ll be drinking some Guinness. We hope you have a
wonderful time, Kay. Wanda Bonner is now our “cover girl” in the church! A photo of
Wanda and 3 other people with snow shoes and cross-country skis is featured on the
front of the Fall-Winter issue of the Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation magazine. (See
photo on next page.) Wanda is quiet, but she gets a lot done. Way to go, Wanda!
If you have news about yourself or know of news about someone else, let us know!
Love to all.
Winter athlete Wanda
Bonner (in purple jacket).
Photo courtesy of Scott
Choir practice begins on Wednesday, Sept. 3. The choir’s first performance will be on
Sept. 14. Kay Bailey is traveling and will return on Sept. 21. Thanks to Carol Meswarb for
her help with accompanying.
The Fall Kickoff for our Sunday School program will be held on Sept. 14. Chuck Parson is
our leader this year. His special program will take place during the morning worship
service. Sunday School will resume on Sept. 7.
Melissa and Russ Borneman invite you to their wedding reception here at the church on
Saturday, Sept. 20. The event is come-and-go, beginning around 2:00 p.m. See Marilyn
Olson for details.
Our Annual Fall Barbecue will be enjoyed on Sept. 28, after the worship service. Expert
cooks Mark Anderson and Dave Whitehead will grill out on our patio. Please bring a potluck side dish to share, and a small donation to help pay for the meat.
Numerous wheelbarrow loads of weeds were removed from the parking lot
by workers from Coatings, Inc.
⊳ September 3: Parking Lot cracks will be cleaned and filled.
⊳ Sept. 3: Choir practice resumes.
⊳ Sept. 14: Fall Kickoff for Christian Ed., Chuck Parson, leader
⊳ Sept. 9: Parking lot being re-surfaced. Lot will be closed for 24 hrs.
⊳ Sept. 10: Parking Lot will be re-striped. Lot re-opens at 4:00 p.m.
⊳ Sept. 13: Deacons and Trustees meet.
⊳ Sept. 14: First performance for choir.
⊳ Sept. 20: Melissa & Russ Borneman wedding reception. All invited. See Marilyn Olson .
⊳ Sept. 28: Annual Church BBQ. Bring a side dish. Meat is supplied. (This is a date change.)
⊳ October 5: World Communion Sunday
⊳ Oct. 5, 1:45 p.m., The Metro Denver Association of the UCC meets at our church.
⊳ Oct. 14-26: Pastor Conner on vacation. Rev. Jerry Eslinger, preaching.
⊳ Oct. 26: Church Halloween Party sponsored by Christian Ed. Wear a costume!
⊳ Oct. 31 – November 2: Annual WRCCUCC Women’s Retreat
⊳ November 9: WRCC UCC Annual Meeting, after worship service.
September Birthdays and Anniversaries
Bonnie and Curt Daly, 1 September
Claudia Schmitt and David Conner, 2 September
Marsha Stocking, 4 September
Pete Berlute, 6 September
Matt Brozovich, 9 September
Terry Packard, 13 September
Lee Rains Thomas, 13 September
Joanne Dyer, 15 September
Marilyn Olson, 15 September
Rod Gustafson, 18 September
Glen Stocking, 21 September
Christine Bland, 29 September
The Church Mouse is published monthly by the Wheat Ridge Congregational Church, United Church of
Christ. The deadline for copy is the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Articles may be handwritten or typed,
but we prefer plain text sent via email to [email protected] Articles must indicate the name of
the writer and/or sender. Unsigned articles are written by the editor. The church website is:
www.wheatridgeucc.org . News and photos for the website should be sent to the same email address
Sunday worship is at 10:00 a.m. Sunday School for children is held during morning worship beginning
at approximately 10:20, following the Time With Our Children in the sanctuary. Adult Education begins
at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday. Office hours are 9:00 to noon daily. Monday is the minister’s day off. The
pastor may be reached at 303-238-6271 (office), 303-522-7016 (cell), or [email protected] .