Amber Congregational Church - To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.
The ShoreLight - Amber Church Newsletter
Summer 2019

Solitude and Prayer
   Summer is the time for relaxation and vacation.  School is out, the weather is warm if not hot, and we all could use a dip in the pool or a snooze in the hammock along with a tall glass of ice tea.  It is true that everyone needs a little time off, some rest and refreshment, and for most of us summer provides that opportunity.
   But actually the idea of rest is a routine part of the church calendar.  It is what the Bible means by Sabbath and what we seek to provide every week in our Sunday Worship.  One day in seven we pause for rest and refocusing.  We remember that life isn’t in our control.  We are God’s people and we relinquish the need and the practice of dominion to him.  Sunday Worship reminds us of this reality. 
   In terms of the Spiritual Disciplines we are focusing this summer on Solitude and Prayer.  In other words, we are encouraging folk to take some time to be alone with God, to reflect on who he is and who we are, to pray for his guidance and for his forgiving grace.  In our solitude and prayer we also remind ourselves that we are not God, that we are not in charge of the world or even of our world.  We need to remember and adjust to that which is so obviously true.
   Back at the end of the twentieth century the Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn, remarked about life in America that “Men have forgotten God.”  This was obviously true of the atheistic Soviet Union but he was speaking about what many considered to be Christian America for it was equally true of us.  We had become a people of practicing atheists, people who don’t necessarily deny the existence of God but who set him on a shelf while we attend to the business of life.
   Now to be sure there is much that needs our attention, much that is crying out for Christian involvement both within and without the local church.  But the reality is that unfortunately a good bit of Christian activism is nothing more than people spouting  their  pet-peeve theology  in a  condemning
way against their neighbors.  It is as if we believe that God is sleeping and we must rise and do his work for him or the whole world will go to hell.  Not on our watch!.
   But actually God is still on the throne and has all things in hand.  Nothing occurs without his notice and he is available to intervene or to provide sustaining grace in every situation.  But as the Bible indicates, he is not often found in mountain shattering winds, or ground altering earthquakes, or violent explosive fires.  No, he makes himself known in quiet, gentle whispers to those who pause in solitude and prayer to listen (1 Kings 19:11-12).
   If we do not stop to hear and connect with God then we more often than not set out to accomplish our way in the world rather than his.  The stress alone of this task is enough to do us in, but we keep going as if everything depended upon our ability to correct or maintain the proper moral and ethical standard in our culture or at least in our town and our family.  But this is not the voice of God.
   Richard Foster wrote in his book, Celebration of Discipline, “As long as we are at the center of the action, we feel indispensable.  But genuine experiences of solitude undercut all the pretense. In every act of retreat we resign as CEO of the universe.  We entrust people into the hands of God.”
   Now certainly being a Christian moves us to an active faith, but it is an action that is not controlling but relinquishing.  We proclaim God’s grace and God’s freedom.  We embrace his control and his people.  We maintain this perspective only if we have sat quietly before God as Elijah did in 1 Kings 19.  He had to be prompted to stop, to rest and to be quiet.  So also we must find our time and place for solitude and prayer and relationship.  May we learn that this summer and maintain in all year long.    
   May Jesus Christ be praised!  See you in worship.

The Church as a Safe Place 
Points of Emphasis for Discussion

It cannot be denied that the culture of our day increasingly finds itself divided on practically every issue.  This is evident politically, socially, and morally. In our current culture, every sentence someone utters could threaten someone else’s existing belief. In the public arena a clear definition of what is true is no longer accepted, preventing us from holding civil conversations. Even within the Christian denominations there are opposing sides debating many of these same issues from differing biblical and theological perspectives.  It is a confusing time for many both within and without the church.  We at the Amber Congregational Church desire to provide a safe place for all people, regardless of their identity or belief, to question, to discuss, to wrestle with the complexities of divisive issues. We seek to do so in an environment that respects everyone. 

Although we are not necessarily planning to hold any public forums on any specific topics, we do want to encourage open and free conversations between individuals and small groups.  We hope all discussions can be approached with respect and without fear or prejudice, putting aside personal preferences in order to clearly hear and learn from others with a different perspective.   We believe we can engage in this kind of dialogue because we live in the reality of Christ’s love.  We feel secure in his love and can therefore freely offer that love to others without fear (1 John 4:15-21).  We desire to be a safe place for all people because of our understanding that the role of the church is to not legally dictate truth but to focus people’s trust on God’s Word.  It is this love of the truth that has brothers and sisters walking with each other to assist and clarify our beliefs.  We can then aid each other in faithfully living them out to the glory of God as each individual  “works out his/her own salvation” under the authority of Christ.   (Philippians 2:12-13, Galatians 6:1-8, 1 John 4:18)
The following six points are what we believe should be the foundation of all discussions pertaining to how people see themselves and how they should determine their moral, social and political views. 

1. Created in the Image of God – The first thing to be stated with regard to human identity is that all people are made in the image of God.  The Creator designed and made us and as a result we are all people of sacred, eternal value.  We are this to God and consequently we should recognize both our own value and that of all others.  The fact that all of us are sinners by condition and by choice does not change this basic truth about us although it does color our ability to accurately understand both ourselves and our world.   (Genesis 1:26-28) 

2. Loved and Redeemed by Christ – We are Christ’s and should be raised to know that who we are primarily and relationally is found in our identity as those loved and redeemed by Jesus.  His love and grace is demonstrated in His death and resurrection for every one of us. This assures each person that they can find the ultimate joy, peace and wholeness that God intended for each one to experience.  We cannot earn this redemption but it must be accepted by each person individually.  Relationship with God through Christ is where true human identity resides.   (2 Corinthians 5:15-21, 1 John 4:9-10)

3. Sinners and Servants of God – Each person stands before God as a sinner and a servant.  We are not the masters of our souls, our selves, or our place in the world.  We belong to another, to God, and we are not gods ourselves.  Our attempt to put ourselves first is evidence of our own sinfulness.  Before we are able to correctly and adequately identity ourselves in the world we must understand and acknowledge our place as subordinate to our Lord; we are servants before the Master.   (Matthew 10:24-25, Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 17:1-10)

4. Obedient Subjects of God’s Order – As people who belong to God by creation and bought by Christ in redemption, we are not in the place of authority.  The standards and morals by which we are to live are not those of our own making.  Our best hope for the sustained joy of life is found in obedience to the moral standards set by our wise and loving Creator.  God has revealed His moral and ethical expectations for humankind in Scripture.   (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

5. Morality and Ethics Determined by Behavior – Morality and ethics are not defined by identity but by behavior.  This is true in the areas of work, speech, appetite, and social interactions, just as it is in all areas of human sexuality.  All of us are born with self-centered sinful perspectives and all express these in their behaviors.  Moral ethics does not seek to change the heart, something only God can do through Christ, but rather morality seeks to declare what is right and wrong behavior in the social community.   (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 4:17-32)

6. Support and Accountability in the Community – The church is God’s designed support and accountability community to enable each individual to live faithfully and for God’s glory.  Here is where each person is to find and experience his/her full place in life and relationships, with God, with others and with oneself.  The church should not seek to be the world’s policeman but neither must we accept the flip-flopping moral standards of our sinful culture and society.  At all times we must remember that the church’s first responsibility is to demonstrate to everyone the affirming love God has for all people.  (John 3:16-21, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

 Amber Congregational Church Church Officers (2019)

Board of Elders   (3 year terms)
     term expiring 2020 - Carl Barber, Mark Henderson, Sally Wilson
     term expiring 2021 - James Frary
     term expiring 2022 - Cathy Smith, Sherry Persad, Deb O’Brien

Board of Trustees   (3 year terms)
    term expiring 2020 - David Heath, Jack Seymour, Matt Henderson,
                                      Chuck Harris
    term expiring 2021 - Mike Curtis, Teal Trendowski
    term expiring 2022 - Cheryl Curtis, Jeff Southard, Terry Wheeler

Ministry Directors   (3 year terms)
     Outreach Director (2020) - Cathy Smith
     Worship Director (2021) - Nancy Barber
     Christian Education Director (2022) - Sue Ellen Harris

Nominating Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2020 - Deb O’Brien, Teal Trendowski, Cindy Casler
     term expiring 2021 - David Angelo, Mark Henderson (Chairperson)

Other Officers  (1 year terms expiring 2020)
    Clerk - Cheryl Curtis
    Treasurer - Gail Frary
    Financial Secretary - Faith Stopyro
    Assistant to the Treasurer and Finacial Secretary - Jenn Schultz
    Ministerial Relations Chairman - Mike Curtis

Samaritan Fund Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2020 - Sally Wilson, Cheryl Curtis
                                       (appointed from the Elders and Trustees)
     term expiring 2021 - Faith Stopyro  (elected by congregation), 
                                       Jim Frary, Matt Henderson 
                                       (appointed from the Elders and Trustees)
     permanent members - Rick Chaffee, Cathy Smith 
                                        (Minister and Outreach Director)

Other 1 Year Appointed Positions (1 year terms expiring in 2020)
    Overseer of Greeters - Deb O’Brien  (appointed by the Worship Director)
    Overseer of Acolytes and Nursery – Nancy Barber 
                                                                  (appointed by the Worship Director)
    Librarian – Cheryl Curtis  (appointed by the Education Director)
    Historian – Sally Wilson  (appointed by the Clerk)

Appointed Positions by the Trustees  (indefinite term)
    Janitor - Rich McVicar
    Music Director - Lois Chaffee
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