February 12, 2021

Dear Prairie Avenue Family,

Usually it is in January when we experience such frigid temperatures! The coldest weekend of the season is forecasted this weekend. Since such temperatures are the exception rather than the rule for us, and too many are vulnerable to health problems associated with the cold, we have chosen to not hold in-person worship this Sunday. As a matter of fact, the temperatures have been so persistently cold that the water lines throughout the sanctuary building are frozen! The faucets are opened slightly to prevent damage, as are cabinets to warm our vintage plumbing. Please do the same for your home plumbing system. Yet our inconveniences with keeping our plumbing from freezing are minor when there are those in Decatur in life-threatening situations due to lack of shelter or heat. Many institutions have opened as warming centers, but fewer places are open over night. Furnances rarely fail in summer, but seem to always die on the coldest nights of the year. Reach out to me if there is a neighbor in need of a warm place. I want no needless suffering when our building is warm and available to those in need of it.

Worship This Week: Created Anew-Descent into the Story.
Have you visited a mountain? Often we are impressed by the view. The highest point in Macon County is just north of Casner along the Cerro Gordo moraine (a lengthy ridge deposited by a glacier about 10,000-12,000 years ago) about 745 feet above sea level. If you have visited the Griswold Conservation Park outside of Blue Mound, you have stood at 706 feet above sea level.

I have stood at the highest point of the Appalachians, on Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina, and upon Pikes Peak in Colorado. There is something magical about standing on a height, looking at a change of scenery, a perspective that allows us to see either four counties or multiple states. Since ancient times (and probably in prehistoric), humans have been drawn to heights (or have committed resources to create artificial mounds) to encounter the gods. In Scripture, we recall Moses ascending Mt. Horeb/Sinai, or Elijah fleeing Jezebel. Both of these previous mountaintop encounters are joined with Jesus when he takes Peter, James, and John up to a high mount in Galilee to reveal the fullness of God's glory and his true nature. God uses mountain contact points to give us his instructions, or to remind us to persevere in our faithfulness when unfaithfulness seems to be gaining upon the land. The story of God is not a story of reaching for him by climbing mountains, but God climbing down to reach us. And when the luminosity fades, there is only Jesus standing there. And God's call for us to listen to him.

When you have been to the mountain, you usually share your vista portraits from the height. Do you share your encounters with God as willingly?

Join me in worship on our website or Facebook at 9 am.

WEEK OF COMPASSION SPECIAL OFFERING FEBRUARY 21 & 28: To be inundated is typically not a good thing: the word carries a sense of too much. Water, a necessity for life, can at times be soothing, as a gently moving river or a placid sea reflecting blue skies above. Yet it also has the power to overwhelm, as when that same river overflows its banks or when an ocean surge is pushed before a storm. Too much
water can inundate a riverbed, a floodplain, a surrounding community.

This is what happened in September 2018 as Hurricane Florence dropped record amounts of rainfall across North and South Carolina. Pamlico County, North Carolina,
was among many places where a combination of storm surge and swollen rivers led to widespread flooding.

Compounded by significant wind damage across the county, the devastation was severe. More than 40% of homes sustained significant damage, along with businesses and infrastructure.

In the midst of this chaos, the staff at Camp Caroline began helping neighbors and inviting Disciples in North Carolina to join their response. A ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina located in Pamlico County, Camp Caroline’s staff did what seemed natural: through existing relationships, they began to identify needs and solicit help. This process and partnership continued as they connected with Week of Compassion and Disciples Volunteering.

While their early response was unfolding, Pamlico County Disaster Recovery Coalition (PCDRC) was formed to offer a centralized organization for countywide recovery. Week
of Compassion extended an operational grant to facilitate recovery coordination, and the deepening relationship soon brought other partners to the response through the
Disaster Recovery Support Initiative.

A second Week of Compassion grant provided a 10% match necessary for PCDRC to obtain significant funds from a local foundation. The funds from Week of Compassion not only directly provided for repairs of eight households, but also provided access to funding for muck-out or repair for an additional eighty homes. The cooperative relationship between Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and
PCDRC enabled them to apply together and receive two additional grants, this time from Lowe’s via National VOAD. Camp Caroline has hosted mission groups throughout the recovery, even as the collaborative adapted to provide safe services in light of COVID-19, helping the PCDRC make the most of their available funds.

Where storms rage, oceans surge, and rivers flood, the inundating power of these combined forces can be devastating. To counter such forces in recovery requires a
similar, cumulative response. Through generosity, service, and prayer, love flows beyond the banks in Pamlico County, surging into places of need. Because of your gifts to Week of Compassion, love flows. Love, of which there can never be too much, now inundates devastated spaces and places and brings healing, hope, and recovery.

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 were stripped and waxed by R.D. McMillian this past Tuesday and are a visible improvement to our facilities.

LIVESTREAMING EQUIPMENT: The equipment has been ordered and should be arriving in the next week.

ELEVATOR MODERNIZATION Our floor care crew from R.D. McMillian was more than patient to the call cancelations of our elevator equipment. The elevator would begin, only to stop and clear the floor button request. While it still operates without fault about 90% of the time, this will not get any better. An updated 2021 estimate of elevator update has been received from Otis Elevator. They were the low bid for the work last year. I will be meeting with trustees to move forward on this pressing maintenance need.

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.

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.

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