February 5, 2021

Dear Prairie Avenue Family,

Winter (and the Groundhog) have returned with fury as I share this with you. Next week looks like the coldest week of the season, and many public spaces are opening as warming centers throughout the city. It is not unusual for a last-leg furnace or boiler to fail on the coldest night of the year. If you, or someone you know, needs a space to stay or keep warm, our facilities are available. Just call me to confirm. We do not want anyone to needlessly suffer while the heat works fine in our large buildings.

You will shortly receive your giving guide and pledge card in the mail. I hope you will consider your pledge thoughtfully and prayerfully for this year. Pledges need to return by Sunday, February 28. You may sign up online, drop it off, or mail it to us! Your generosity makes all of our ministries and mission support possible! Thank you!

Worship This Week: Created Anew-Never-Ending Creativity.
I am sure you have experienced weariness as we are nearing the anniversary of the first public health guidelines and closures due to the spread of COVID-19. We had to adjust to mask mandates, social distancing, and limited groups for an endless number of months.

This weekend, we will encounter words of hope from Isaiah to those who have been in exile from Judah for nearly 70 years! I know 2020 felt like at least a decade of our lives taken, but imagine not being allowed to return to your home, your city, your way of life for the next seven decades! The return of the exiles is coming, and those who have waited for so long will see God answer, like an eagle flying quickly, or a companion in the race, or in unexpected strength drawn into a weary walk. God creatively engages our hopelessness with either a rescue, a repair, or a renewal. In each way, God calls us from hopelessness to hope, from despair to joy. The one who created is always recreating. We too can join in the re-creation of the world.

We can rescue. We can repair it. And we can renew.

Join me at 5 pm Saturday online at our website or 9 am in-person or on Facebook to explore what it means to experience and share Christian Freedom.

WEEK OF COMPASSION SPECIAL OFFERING FEBRUARY 21 & 28: Imagine not knowing where your next meal will come from. Imagine the constant fear of political unrest. Imagine working hard to produce crops to feed your family and earn a living, but constantly battling the effects of climate change threatening your ability to bring those crops to harvest.

Imagine all of these things happening at once.

It might be difficult for our siblings in Nicaragua to believe there will ever come a day when they do not hunger or thirst. For them, food security can seem like an unattainable goal. But through a partnership with Growing Hope Globally and respected local organization CIEETS, Week of Compassion partners have teamed up with 220 families in eight communities to thrive despite such adversity. Your continued support is helping these farmers plant new types of crops, find new ways of earning extra money, and sustainably care for the natural resources around them.
These are just a few stories of hope from some of our partner families…

René Bermúdez and Iris Mercedes Canales are active participants in the CWS-supported program, taking on new initiatives and enterprises. They are working hard to ensure that their family always has enough to eat and a way to earn a living. Rene is raising stingless Melipona bees, which produce medicinal honey that he can sell. He learned about poultry raising and has started raising chickens – and now has forty hens that produce eggs, plus another 140 that he is preparing to sell! Iris says that her family’s nutrition has improved through the program. They have begun to eat a more diverse diet.

Claudia Palacios is a single mom who has struggled to take care of her children. Even though she owns a little bit of land, she has lost several harvests to the effects of
climate change. “A lot of people in this community are in the same situation. When it rains too much, the crops die from disease or they’re washed away. When it doesn’t
rain enough, they dry up. Either way, us farmers lose everything.” But now, Claudia is participating in the CWSsupported farming program. She’s planted beans and is
working with program technicians to improve her harvests.

“We’re here, thanks be to God. And we are blessed by CLIEETS and CWS with this project. It’s a blessing for us, for El Tigre, San Gregorio, Los Ranchos, San Vicente, San
Antonio, all of us here. God willing, we’ll continue this work for the benefit of everyone. We are getting big changes in the weather, the climate, the rain is irregular... CLIEETS has helped us a lot to adapt to the changes. We can’t rely on
the sort of agriculture that we used to rely on.” – Pastor Adan García Díaz of the Nazareno Church in El Tigre

Your generous gifts through Week of Compassion will help these families and many others continue to build a sustainable life – without hunger or thirst – as they
learn new ways to produce food and income. Please give generously so they will continue to reap the harvest of God’s love growing in their communities.

DISCIPLES MISSION FUND: It has been many years since we have shared our tithes and offerings in support of the Disciples Mission Fund. The Disciples Mission Fund is similar to our general fund, but instead of assisting our ministries and facilities, it distributes support to the ministries and facilities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) throughout the United States and Canada, as well as globally. As part of our covenant with both the regional and general church, we are encouraged to share generously. For 2021, I ask that 1% of total general offering receipts be sent as congregational support of the Disciples Mission Fund. Let us resume our sustaining support of our regional church ministries through the Illinois-Wisconsin region, the Higher Education institutions such as Eureka College in Illinois as well as Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, and the office of General Minister and President Teresa "Terri" Hord Owens.

Nominations for Treasurer
The duties of the treasurer are currently being covered by the remaining Board Officers and Trustees. Since 2016, payroll and bills have been handled by Coffman Accounting. They provide us with regular reports and budget tracking. Responsibilities of the treasurer include handling the weekly deposits and the signing for bi-weekly payroll and bills, approximately 10-15 hours a month. If you would be interested in this position, please contact Les Ruffner 217-855-6361.

Building & Grounds
FLOOR MAINTENANCE The first-floor hallways, men's restroom, youth room, and elevator entrances will be stripped and waxed by R.D. McMillian next Tuesday, February 9, beginning at 8 am.

LIVESTREAMING EQUIPMENT: The equipment has been ordered and should be arriving in a few weeks.

DISCIPLES BAPTISM STUDY GROUP A study group for baptism candidates to explore the teachings and identity of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will begin on Sunday evenings at 7 pm beginning February 21. All those interested in joining Prairie Avenue Christian Church by transfer or baptism are encouraged to attend, with six weeks of planned lessons.

ONLINE COURSES & BOOK GROUPS A series of course and study groups are being reviewed to offer online opportunities for Christian growth and understanding of spiritual practices and habits. One study group will be on prayer.

STEPHEN MINISTRY A training class to develop Stephen Ministry candidates will begin on Sunday mornings during Lent, following worship services. We are looking at both in-person and online options to facilitate this training. The first class is planned for Sunday, February 28, 10:30 am in the Sunshine Classroom.

MUSIC ENSEMBLES & GROUPS We are anticipating the return of instrumental and vocal ensembles in time for Easter services. Look to the E-newsletter (or this note) for further updates.

BLOCK BY BLOCK The former high school classroom adjacent to the Sunday School Office is the new storage area for this program. They are looking to expand efforts this fall in the Clokey & Nelson Park neighborhoods to assist renters and homeowners.

EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER/CRISIS NURSERY Imagine what we would do if our mission was to do the following: that no child within our reach would be without faith, family, or food. Prior to COVID-19, we contacted the Economic Development Corporation for Decatur & Macon County to assist us in thinking differently about our facilities and our community. Upon looking at the many underutilized classrooms of the Van Lear Education wing, they suggested early child care as a needed community resource. I have also asked Ellen Moma about their ongoing before & after school camp programming at First Christian Church of Blue Mound. I am interested in seeing our space utilized for real community needs on a regular basis. If you would like to assist in this effort, please speak (or e-mail) to me! Thanks.

Hope is building and is available to all who seek it. We draw on this resource from God's magnificent bounty!

Blessings to you all,
As a church family, we care for and pray for one another.

As a matter of online privacy, we will only disclose public sympathy to a church friend or family member whose passing has also been publicly disclosed.

The Family of Betty J (Dappert) Moore, who died January 22, 2021.

If you would like prayer, please submit your prayer request online, and Pastor Jason and prayer team members will pray for you.
Prairie Avenue Christian Church | Website