View John's Book List here...

From April/May Newsletter:

Holy is the week. Holy, consecrated, belonging to God.

We move from hosannas to horror with predictable ease of those who know not what they do.

Our hosannas sung, our palms waved,

let us go with passion into this week.

It is time for preparation. . .the time to give thanks and break bread is upon us.

The time to give thanks and drink

of the cup is imminent.

And then, on that darkest of days, each of us must stand beneath the tree and watch the dying

if we are to be there when the stone is rolled away.

The only road to Easter morning is through the unrelenting shadows of that Friday.

Only then will the alleluias be sung;

only then will the dancing begin!

                                                                                                   Weems

I encourage you to be with our Family of Faith for our Holy Week services and experience the joy, beauty, music and spirit of Easter as you have never experienced it before!!

                                                                          With Love,

                                                                          John

 

 

 

 

From February/March Newsletter:

"Death is a subject that is evaded, ignored and denied.  But the fact is that death is inevitable.  We will all die; it is only a matter of time.  Death is as much of human existence, of human growth and development, as being born.  Death is not an enemy to be conquered or a prison to be escaped.  It is an integral part of our lives that gives meaning to human existence."

from Death the Final Stage of Growth by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I believe Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is right. As the pastor of this Church ministering to our members and friends during times of death is one of the most important and meaningful things I do. I want to encourage you, if you haven't done so already, to think about your death and the deaths of those you love. However morbid and gruesome you may think this request is, I believe it is appropriate and joyous.  According to our Christian beliefs, death means eternal peace and when loved ones gather for worship to remember and celebrate one's life it should be a gathering of hope and love and joy and faith.  Therefore, in order to make it such a gathering, it is best to plan.  Again, I encourage you.  I encourage you to think about what kind of funeral or memorial service you would like to have.  Many people have spoken to me in advance and it is very helpful to me and other family members.  It doesn't matter how young or old you are.  The information can always be changed or updated.  When a death occurs, I take the file I have for the person and many questions we have are answered.  Did the person want to be buried? Cremated?  Did they want a time of viewing at the funeral home, traditionally called a "wake?" Do they have a place in the Church's Memorial Garden?  Do they have a cemetery plot and if so, where?  Do we plan a funeral, meaning that the person would be buried after the service, or do we plan a memorial service meaning the person is either cremated or buried prior to the service?

Are there people they want to have speak at the service?  What scripture passages were meaningful to them?  What hymns should be sung? Was there other music that was special to them?  How many of these questions can you answer for yourself and those you love?  Come and talk to me.  Give me the opportunity to start a file for you.  A celebration file!  A love file!  A new beginnings file!  Whatever we choose to call it, it will be a very helpful file to me and those who love you.  And while you are thinking about these things, how about a living will?  Do you have one?  Give me a call and set up a time for us to talk about these meaningful issues.  Don't wait until it's too late and then have us wondering. Death should be embraced as an integral part of life.  Prepare for it.

Henry van Dyke wrote, "There is only one way to get ready for immortality, and that is to love this life as bravely and faithfully and cheerfully as we can."

And as you reflect upon these words there is something else I encourage you to consider, no matter what your age - make the Church a beneficiary in your will.  When I ask people if they ever thought about this, usually the response is - "Gee, no I haven't."  You see a number of people say to me, year after year, during our annual Stewardship Drive, that they love the Church and wish they could give more to the Church. You can.  You can give a gift that could help secure  the financial foundation of the Church and therefore play a significant role in securing the future of your Church.

Let me tell you a true story:  Many years ago one of our members, Jane Brown, said to me, "I love the Church so much I wish I could give more."  I asked her if she ever considered  leaving something to the Church in her will.  She said she hadn't thought about it but would consider it.  A few weeks later she told me that she amended her will so that the Church was listed as a beneficiary and would receive a percentage of her estate.  She went on to say that it might not be very much but she wanted to do whatever she could and she wanted any money  from her estate to be used for maintenance and improvements.  Fine.  As it turned out her brother died before she did and she inherited a large sum of money and when she died the Church received a significant gift.  This money was wisely invested by our Investment Committee, and today is worth much more.  Are you thinking that your estate would never be that significant?  It's not about the amount of the gift that matters, it's the love behind the gift that matters.  Jane Brown did something significant to secure the future of the Church.

Since that gift the Church has received a few other gifts from estates, which have been invested and are a part of the Church's endowment that was established in 1998 when the Church received a gift from the Gillespie family estate.  Again, all these funds are watched closely by our Investment Committee.  Gifts from estates can be used in different and creative ways - gifts could be designated for certain operating expenses; for specific programs; to fund staff positions; toward outreach; and so on; or simply to enrich the current endowment - the possibilities are almost endless and very exciting for the Church. 

In addition to providing for your family and loved ones, you might want to put The United Church of Rowayton in your will thus helping to assure the long-term future of its ministry and mission.  And here is another important issue:  all bequests to the Church are free of estate tax and can substantially reduce the amount of your assets claimed by the government.

So, you can help secure the Church's future. Really!  Simply include the following words in your will: I give, devise and bequeath to The United Church of Rowayton (insert the amount given or percentage here) to be used to (support The United Church of Rowayton - or any specific wording you desire).  A bequest can be a specific dollar amount, a specific piece of property, a percentage of an estate, all or part of the residue of an estate.  You can also name the Church as a contingent beneficiary in the event someone named in your will is no longer living.  As you consider this stewardship of your assets, it is always recommended that an attorney help in drafting or amending your will.  I encourage you to come and talk with me about this possibility.  If you are wondering why I, your pastor, am addressing this issue, well, I love this Church as much as you do.  I want to do anything I can to help secure the Church for tomorrow, long after you and I are gone.  I hope to remain here for many years and when I retire, I hope the endowment of our Church will have increased significantly by that time because many people cared enough to do something.  It really is a tremendous opportunity for you to help the future of the Church.  I encourage you, during the season of Lent, a season in which many try to "give up" something, to consider the gift of "giving" something in a very significant and meaningful way.  You can help secure the Church's future.  Really!

 

                          With Love

                                    John